'Sarkar Raj' gets good opening - but will it run?

Jun 10, 2008 Jivraj Burman

Mumbai, June 11 (IANS) Any movie starring Amitabh Bachchan invariably gets a good opening at the box office. So if "Sarkar Raj" netted an 88 percent collection on its opening day, no one should be surprised.

Before its release, there was much hoopla about it being a takeoff on the Thackeray family of Mumbai or being loosely based on "The Godfather" series. But neither director Ram Gopal Varma nor Bachchan confirmed it, adding to the curiosity factor.

Then the campaigns started. As it turned out, it was one of the most vigorously promoted Bollywood movies in recent times. It stars Amitabh, Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai among others.

Thus, the movie opening with an 88 percent collection from 62 prints in Mumbai June 6, strictly from the business point of view, may be considered a bit of a letdown.

What may cause some worry to Balaji Motion Pictures, the world distributor of "Sarkar Raj", is that pundits predict a shorter life for it in the cinemas.

"While the performances of the Bachchans - Amitabh, Abhishek and Aishwarya - are first rate, the movie in totality is nothing that the audience has not seen before. There is no novelty factor to sustain the audience interest," said a trade analyst not wishing to be named.

In contrast, the trade expects UTV Spotboy's moderately budgeted "Aamir", also released June 6, to recover its investment many times over. What goes in its favour is that it is a taut thriller and it never goes off track by resorting to uncalled-for romance to woo the audience.

The opening of the film, starring TV actor Rajeev Khandelwal, was rather weak with a 45 percent collection, but things may pick up in the coming days through word of mouth publicity.

Considering that the movie's pre-release promotion was virtually absent, for it to register a collection of 45 percent from 40 prints in Mumbai may be considered a good box office performance.

"Aamir" is a triumph of Raj Kumar Gupta, the director, and Khandelwal, who gives a convincing performance of a man on the run.

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