It is perhaps for the first time that a Hollywood film, which doesn't belong to any superhero fantasy action universe, has made more money than a much-hyped Bollywood multi-starrer helmed by none other than Karan Johar, seven years after he last occupied the director's chair.
Christopher Nolan's 'Oppenheimer', which is about the Manhattan Project and the moral dilemma of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist leading America's quest to develop the atom bomb, made more money in its first three days than the Ranveer Singh-Alia Bhatt-starrer 'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani'.
Surprised? With neither the evocative music of 'Rocky Aur Rani', nor a parade of chiffon saris evoking the magic of Yash Chopra (and stellar performances by veterans Shabana Azmi and Dharmendra), 'Oppenheimer', despite its gritty narrative on a theme Indian audiences were not expected to warm up to, made Rs 13.5 crore (Friday), Rs 16.5 crore (Saturday) and Rs 17.25 crore (Sunday) in its debut weekend, thus making a net collection of Rs 47.25 crore, according to the trade website Bollymoviereviewz.com.
Now, these are figures from the production house, but 'Oppenheimer' being an international title, its collection figures are scrutinised by credible global agencies, so they can be considered to be fairly close to reality.
India, in fact, has turned out to be the biggest international market for 'Oppenheimer' after the UK with the Nolan epic's net earnings (that is, gross collections minus taxes) touching Rs 91.05 crore after 10 days.
'Oppenheimer', incidentally, is running on 1,200 screens pan-India, compared with 3,200 in the case of 'Rocky Aur Rani'. Yet its opening-day collection ranks seventh among all-time best Hollywood first-day earnings in India (the topper continues to be the 2019 superhero drama, 'Avengers: Endgame', which made Rs 53.1 crore).
In the case of 'Rocky Aur Rani', two sets of figures are available, those of the producer being much higher than the ones shared by the film trade.
The trade figures for 'Rocky Aur Rani' are Rs 9.5 crore (Friday), Rs 14.5 crore (Saturday) and Rs 15 crore (Sunday), which adds up to Rs 39 crore (compare this with the 47.25 crore netted by 'Oppenheimer' in its first three days).
Now, the producer's figures are: Rs 11.1 crore (Friday), Rs 16.05 crore (Saturday) and Rs 18.75 crore (Sunday), or a total collection of Rs 45.81 crore, which is also lower than the numbers for 'Oppenheimer'.
On the first three days of 'Rocky Aur Rani', which were Days 8, 9 and 10 for 'Oppenheimer', audience interest in the biopic had in no way flagged, and it made Rs 4.65 crore on its second Friday, Rs 7.25 crore (second Saturday) and Rs 7.5 crore (second Sunday).
Clearly, even as 'Oppenheimer' seems headed for the Rs 100-crore club, it is evident that the audience has spoken with its wallet.
Karan Johar's song-and-dance-laden story about a rambunctious West Delhi Punjabi boy and a Bengali sophisticate has lost out to the Gita-spouting, morally conflicted atomic physicist.