The audience showed up for Ranbir Kapoor’s Alia Bhatt and Brahmastra, giving a bollywood under siege a little hope. The question now is whether they will again vote with their feet for Vikram Vedha by Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan and Mani Ratnam Ponniyin Selvan 1 this Friday. Film pundits are confident that this week’s releases will bring in big bucks at box offices, but in their respective markets, Vikram Vedha in the North and Ponniyin Selvan 1 in the South.
What puts Vikram Vedha above Ponniyin Selvan 1 in the northern circuit are its lead actors, Hrithik and Saif, who have greater appeal to Hindi-speaking audiences. Film exponent Akshaye Rathi noted: “Hrithik is the last real blue superstar we had in hindi cinema fraternity. There is a possible audience that comes to cinemas just because Hrithik’s face is on the bill. This does not happen to the young actors who followed him. His presence in the film and his arrival on the big screen right after War almost four years ago is certainly something most people are excited about.
If things go as film trade pundits expect, we’re looking at a Rs 15 crore opening for Vikram Veda. But film producer and trade expert Girish Johar thinks that number could very easily have been Rs 20 crore if the makers had come up with a better marketing strategy. He said, “I thought Vikram Veda’s promotions would be going full steam ahead, but the marketing push is a bit below expectation. Advance reservations are a bit above average, but nothing out of the ordinary. However, he is “optimistic” about a good collection for the first day of the film.
Compared to Vikram Vedha, Ponniyin Selvan 1 doesn’t have as much buzz in the North although it is planning a “historic” opening to the South. Akshaye Rathi felt that the film was not of interest to northerners because “it is a historical piece of Tamil literature. It is a story that all children in Tamil Nadu know.
He said that Ponniyin Selvan is one of iconic works of Tamil literature. But, in his opinion, “both movies should work really well to bring joy to the movie industry.” According to Girish Johar, Ponniyin Selvan 1 could open at around Rs 2 crore in Hindi-speaking states.
One factor that will help both Vikram Vedha and Ponniyin Selvan 1 to hit the bucks is reduced ticket prices, courtesy shows during the National Cinema Day celebration. Cinema tickets were priced at Rs 75 across all cinema chains to celebrate national cinema day. Rathi said, “The price in cinemas is not what it was for National Cinema Day, but it has been kept very reasonable to make it accessible to the widest possible audience. These are the factors that will allow Vikram Vedha and Ponniyin Selvan 1 to do extremely well.
Girish Johar added, “After the celebration of National Cinema Day, ticket prices have been reduced by 10-15%. I think it gave exhibitors a certain feeling that you can’t charge more and that you have to be realistic in the field. Now, after the success of Brahmastra, this weekend’s box office result will give a clearer picture of the mood of moviegoers nationwide.