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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Ghajini' already a hit at ticket counters


New Delhi, Aamir Khan's much-hyped and eagerly awaited psychological thriller “Ghajini” has set the cash registers ringing in terms of advance bookings, beating Percept Picture Company's animation caper "Jumbo".Both films release after a dry spell of two weeks at the box office after Yash Raj Films' Shah Rukh Khan starrer "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" that hit the screens Dec 12.
However, “Ghajini” seems to be the clear winner already, giving the children's film pitted against it a tough competition, say trade experts.
“Considering the hype it has generated with the massive promotion and marketing tactics and looking at Aamir's amazing previous record, the movie is going to have an excellent initial opening vis-?vis 'Jumbo',” Joginder Mahajan, a Delhi-based distributor, told IANS.
“The film ('Ghajini') has got block bookings so far and the paid previews on Dec 24 are already packed. It is expected to sweep in a gross of about Rs.100 million only from north India. Moreover, it has no competition until 'Chandni Chowk To China' hits screens Jan 16,” Mahajan added.
Said Tusshar Dhingra, COO of Big Cinemas: “We are almost sold out on the paid previews of the film. 'Ghajini' has an added advantage as it is opening on Christmas. It also has a bonus of an extended five-day weekend with New Year holidays.”
Written and directed by A.R. Murugadoss, "Ghajini" is the Hindi remake of his 2005 Tamil hit of the same name. The original featured southern actor Surya Sivakumar along with actress Asin Thottumkal, while the remake will see Bollywood perfectionist Aamir Khan taking Surya's place.
“Jumbo”, on the other hand, is a re-dubbed version of the 2006 Thai animated hit “Khan Kluay” directed by Kompin Kemgumnird. Co-produced by Eagle Home Entertainment, the film is about a baby elephant (Jumbo), who embarks on a journey to search for his father.
The main attraction in India are voice-overs form a host of Bollywood stars like Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Dimple Kapadia and cricketer Yuvraj Singh.
In terms of budget, while the producers of "Ghajini" have invested around Rs.300 million, Percept's “Jumbo” needed a reworking investment of Rs.200 million, including the marketing rights.
So far as the prints are concerned, distributors Geetha Arts, Studio 18 and Big Cinemas are releasing “Ghajini” with about 1,500 prints worldwide vis-?vis the 300 prints of the 90-minute “Jumbo”.
“There has been a high response from overseas exhibitors to 'Ghajini'. Aamir Khan has been off the screen for almost a year and his fan base cannot wait to watch the movie,” said Jawahar Sharma, COO (international distribution) of BIG Pictures.
“Jumbo” hasn't found any slots in single-screens and would be played only in multiplexes.
“Animation is not that successful a genre in India right now and the movie will have a limited audience. But with 'Ghajini' releasing on the same day, it is doubtful whether the movie will even recover its basic costs,” said Mahajan.
Dhingra, on other hand, said that the cartoon film had its own audience.
“Both the films are from different genres and both have different takers. While 'Ghajini' is much hyped because of different reasons, 'Jumbo' also has Akshay Kumar's voice-over to lend it its own standing,” he said.
Shailendra M. Singh, managing director of Percept Pictures, said he was confident about his film doing well.
“We have purposely pitched 'Jumbo' against 'Ghajini' because we feel our film has the ability to stand against a big commercial film. This film is a pure Bollywood potboiler just like a Manmohan Desai movie,” he said.


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