The Warm Easterlies

Bollywood’s first film that’s more popular abroad than at home
The Warm Easterlies

Global ambition was apparent when Fox Star Studios acquired My Name is Khan for a record sum, rumoured to be as high as Rs 85 crore. The question being asked now is: How much of that is coming back?

In terms of global visibility, MNIK is on an unprecedented high. With the backing of the powerful Hollywood studio, it is Bollywood’s biggest splash overseas, with 465 prints released in 42 countries. Another 30 prints reached Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman earlier this week, 50 prints will find their way into Poland in April and another 50 will get to German screens on May 5.

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The opening collections overseas have been the biggest so far. MNIK amassed $1.9 million over the first weekend in the US, ahead of the previous record of $ 1.7 m set by Om Shanti Om. It grossed £936,000 in the UK, breaking Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna’s record of £750,000. In the Middle East it made US $1.4 million, ahead of 3 Idiots’ haul of US $ 350,000.

The domestic market, however, is a different story, having been written off by trade pundits on Monday morning. “It started reasonably well but is on its way out. It will be difficult to sustain because the masses have rejected it,” says trade analyst Amod Mehra. He estimates a net share of only Rs 30 crore for the distributor. Vinod Mirani, managing editor of BoxOffice India, says the film is “finished” in single screens and the drop this Monday has been drastic. According to Komal Nahata of Film Information, it has crashed at home though holding well overseas. “It will lose Rs 15-20 crore,” he predicts. According to him, it will sustain itself only in Muslim areas. Meanwhile, Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama prefers to defer his verdict, until after the second weekend.

Fox, for its part, claims the film has grossed Rs 90.2 crore worldwide over the first weekend. It defends the dip on Monday as “normal”. According to Aalif Surti, head, creative and production, Fox Star Studio India, MNIK netted Rs 5 crore all India on Monday, a figure comparable to Love Aaj Kal and ahead of OSO. “The film has just started its life. Only in India does a film die on Monday morning itself,” he says wryly. Meanwhile, speculation is rife: Will MNIK be the first Bollywood film to do overwhelmingly better abroad than in the home country?

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