Mumbai: The controversial Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone starrer ‘Pathaan’ opened to impressive, first day ticket sales on Wednesday, with record advance bookings of 5.5 lakh for the first day, collecting Rs45 crore, sources close to producer Yash Raj Films (YRF) said. However, noted film critic and trade analyst Amod Mehra said the hype has been manufactured. “Huge amounts are being pumped in to create a big buzz on social media,” he said.
Shah Rukh Khan has made a comeback to the big screen after a four-year hiatus; his last lead role was in 2018 in ‘Zero’, which bombed at the box office. ‘Pathaan’ is the fourth film in YRF’s spy universe after ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ and ‘War’.
Barring a few stray incidents of protests and tearing down of ‘Pathaan’ posters in Dhule and Belagavi, Maharashtra witnessed peaceful screenings.
Despite protests and calls for boycotts by several outfits, the film opened with massive 5,500 screens pan India and another 2,500 screens worldwide. Shah Rukh has an open run at the box office, with no other major film playing in theatres.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Amey Khopkar questioned the theatres side-lining Marathi films releasing on the same day. “Why should multiplexes sacrifice Marathi films like ‘Bamboo’ and ‘Piccolo’ because it’s Shahrukh’s comeback? They must also be given proper screenings,” he warned as a veiled threat to theatres and multiplex chains.
Meanwhile, film exhibitor Manoj Desai of G7 cinemas that runs the Gaiety Galaxy theatres in Bandra expressed high expectations from ‘Pathaan’. “Theatres desperately need good films to bring back audience to the magic of big screen,” said Mr Desai, disappointed with the lack of police cover . He added, “I had to arrange private security. “Theatres in Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, besides other cities, got police protection but in Maharashtra the police ignored theatres,” added Mr Desai.
Countering the claim, a senior police said, “A police patrol van is stationed at most theatres to deter any trouble maker. Adequate police cover is available and we don’t expect any violence or disruption.”
PVR chain has increased the security, and similar arrangements have been made by Carnival cinema and Inox. Several policemen were posted at PVR Juhu and PVR Andheri to ensure smooth screening.
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