ABCL, the production arm company bearing the name of Amitbh Bachchan in its new form is slowly getting up with a first strike on the box office, with the entry of Abhishek Bachchan as its executing producer and the team of R. Balki (Cheeni Kum) in its first major production venture, Paa. PAA stars the duo of Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan opposite Vidya Balan with Paresh Rawal. And this film is emerging a box office hit in India in commercial terms, much bigger than Cheeni Kum.
The opening on Friday morning however, despite a glitzy premier where nearly all of bollywood showed up including the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Govinda, was actually slow, albeit better than described in some sections of the trade. Single screen theaters like Galaxy in Bombay reported around 16,000 against 27,000 capacity (62%). Some fared lower, few in East UP, South were higher. Overall however an understated opening with people unsure of what to expect.
However by afternoon word had started spreading and erstwhile Bachchan fans who in recent years perhaps had gotten detached from Amitabh Bachchan and Bachchans, started packing into the theaters, and by evening and night, collection shows PAA had shot up by over 100%.
Next up, Saturday saw the pickup continuing, turning phenomenal by the evening. Some theaters in Kandivili in Mumbai were said to have already recorded the best Saturday box office collections of the year when Saturday wasn't even over.
But it is Sunday which could possibly end up being one of the highest box office collection days in this era. With theaters like at Satyam in Madras, a multiplex reporting sold out for rest of the weekend; same with Roxy, a single screener in Mumbai going 100% in advance booking for Sunday. The situation is similar at Central Plaza, another single screen in Mumbai.
Up north a similar upward trend has been witnessed in Delhi and UP. Though the heavy usage of conversational English could keep a segment of the population deterred, the Bachchan factor may be helping compensate for that somewhat, especially in the conventional hindi markets like Kanpur, Allahabad, Gorukhpur etc. Massive pickups have been registered in Bengal, which earlier used to be a very safe Bachchan circuit at one point (ex. suryavansham in 1999 flopped in rest of India, but did hit business in Bengal)
So at this rate, it appears the 15 crore budget PAA, could end up generating over Rs. 20 crores by Sunday evening itself. The film is a certain hit, the only question is how big will the eventual returns be over the next few months, as unlike the recent trend of 72 hour Fri-Sun box office cycle, Paa will have legs over the coming weekdays as well, and then beyond.
The other release, Himesh Reshammiya-Shenaz Treasurywala starrer Radio had a very slow start of under 15% on limited prints and reports are not so impressive, however the film has been made at a cost of about Rs, 6 crores only so that would be its mitigating factor in its favor.
The trailers of Salman Khan starrer Veer were released recently to a good response. It will be recalled that Veer set in the British era is being made by Anil Sharma, who made Gadar, another masala period fare and a major hit.