New Delhi: Neeraj Ghaywan’s Richa Chadda starrer Masaan has been released in about 300 screens across India, mostly in the metros and big cities. Last week’s blockbuster release Bajrangi Bhaijaan released across more than 4,000 screens.
“Audiences in big cities tend to be more receptive and experimental compared to those in small towns who come by word-of-mouth," said Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of exhibitor PVR Ltd. “We’re starting with the top 15-20 cities and giving the film breathing space to be talked about on social media and other platforms before we take it ahead."
The film, little known as of now in India, was premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival where it won the International Federation of Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI) and the Promising Future Prize in the Un Certain Regard section, besides a five-minute standing ovation from the audience.
But the Indo-French production is not the first small-budget film that would be labelled ‘indie’ in India to have earned glowing reviews from foreign publications or recognition at international festivals. Films such as The Lunchbox (2013) that earned ₹ 21 crore according to Bollywood Hungama, already set the trend.
As movies without popular faces or huge investments increasingly vie for audiences with their unconventional themes and treatment, it remains to be seen if they can pass the acid test at the box-office.
“There has always been a market for good cinema," says Gianchandani. “And there are no set definitions for big and small. Who would’ve thought Tanu Weds Manu Returns, a film with R. Madhavan and Kangana Ranaut by a relatively emerging director would cross ₹ 150 crore?"
With about 14-28 shows everyday in prime slots ranging from 2-4pm, Gianchandani says Masaan is an exciting film for PVR. “It’s a little gem with a big heart reflecting Indian ethos and small-town realities that needs to be nurtured, cultivated and supported."
Set in Varanasi, Masaan is the story of youngsters fighting societal perceptions and norms. It has been co-produced by Drishyam Films, Macassar Productions, Phantom Films, Sikhya Entertainment, Arte France Cinema and Pathé Productions. It stars Richa Chadda, Vicky Kaushal, Sanjay Mishra and Shweta Tripathi.