Slow advance bookings, but high expectations from 'Peepli Live'

Aug 12, 2010 Robin Bansal

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan's production 'Peepli Live', which has created an unprecedented buzz despite being a non-commercial movie, has got a mixed start at the ticket windows in terms of advance bookings both in metros and small centres.

'The advance is nothing good considering that it has no star cast. We have sold only 20 percent of weekend tickets, but we are expecting a bumper weekend because of a trustworthy name like Aamir Khan,' Amit Awasthi, senior manager (Programming and Operations) of Spice Cinemas, told IANS.

A source from PVR cinemas said: 'The advance is okay but nothing like an Aamir starrer. We are getting a lot of bulk bookings from corporate offices, but on small-scale basis it is yet to pick momentum. Apart from metros, the booking is okay at small centres like Allahabad, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Indore and Ludhiana.'

Directed by debutant Anusha Rizvi, 'Peepli Live' puts the spotlight on the farmers suicides and the subsequent political and media reaction.

The cast of the film is a mixed bag - many actors are tribals from Bhadwai village in Madhya Pradesh, while other cast members are from late playwright Habib Tanvir's theatre troupe Naya Theatre, including the main lead Omkar Das Manikpuri, who plays Natha in 'Peepli Live'.

The film also stars Naseeruddin Shah, Malaika Shenoy, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shalini Vatsa, Farrukh Jaffer, Vishal O. Sharma, Aamir Bashir, Sitaram Panchal and Yugal Kishore.

'The advance is good and is equivalent to any other commercial movie despite having no stars. We have sold 20 percent of the weekend tickets and are expecting an average occupancy of 90-95 percent over the weekend,' said Yogesh Raizada, corporate head(Cinemas) of Wave Cinemas.

'Even in small centres like Moradabad (Uttar Pradesh), we are having an advance of five to 10 percent and we are expecting 70-80 percent of occupancy over there too,' he added.

Having bagged critical acclaim across the festival circuit abroad, 'Peepli Live' has already recovered its investment of Rs.100 million via satellite rights. It has also earned Rs.40 million through music rights.

Releasing over 700 screens worldwide Friday excluding Britain, it will hit 600 screens in India. The movie has been co-produced and distributed worldwide by UTV Motion Pictures.

'The response for 'Peepli Live' is quite good at my multiplex IP3 in Varanasi. We don't have advance bookings but tele bookings for allotted members and that is quite encouraging because of the buzz,' said Sakshi Mehra, owner of IP3 and president of the Motion Pictures Association of Delhi-Uttar Pradesh.

Delhi-based distributor Joginder Mahajan said: 'The buzz is good for 'Peepli Live' and there is a good demand for the movie even in small centres. Aamir Khan is a trustworthy name and the promotions for the movie have reached even the two-tier and three-tier cities courtesy television and other activities,' he added.

In smaller centres too theatre owners are hoping good foot falls as Aamir's name is associated with the movie.

'We don't have advance bookings but we are hoping the upper class will come to watch the film. We are confused in terms of business for the movie as it is rural-based,' Nawal Kishore Pandey, manager, Amar Cinema, Muzaffarpur, told IANS over the phone.

Rajkumar Sow, manager, Anupama Cinema Hall, Jagdalpur, Chattisgarh, said: 'There is a slow advance for the movie at our theatre. There have been floods and incessant rains so everyone is busy in that. But we are expecting a good initial because there is a a lot of news about this one.'

Said Mangesh Shukla, supervisor, Big Cinemas Rajkala (single-screen), Wardha, Maharashtra: 'The advance booking is normal, but there is a lot of awareness for the movie and we are sure it will draw a massive footfall - all in Aamir Khan's name.'

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