New Delhi: Kamal Haasan’s magnum opus Vishwaroopam II will arrive in theatres tomorrow, albeit with some bad luck. Haasan’s film, shot in Tamil and Hindi, and dubbed in Telugu and Malayalam, will have to deal with the precarious situation in Tamil Nadu following DMK patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi’s death, the state which is also Haasan’s primary market.
“Multiplexes are yet to start advance booking for the film, something they should have done five days ago" said an industry expert on condition of anonymity. “For a film like this, you’d expect early morning shows but people are in mourning."
Independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said the action film should ideally get 500-600 screens in Tamil Nadu, and if there is an uninterrupted release, be able to capitalize on the solo release opportunity.
“There are no other Hindi or Tamil releases this week and the previous week’s movies have all bombed. It’s a beautiful weekend in the run-up to the Independence Day," Pillai said predicting a ₹ 30-35 crore opening for the film.
However, there are other aspects to the tale. Haasan, who has recently announced his decision to pursue a political career, and who is known to have been close to the DMK, may not come off well in pushing his film at this time of state grief. But postponing the movie, already long in the making, would mean clashing with Akshay Kumar’s Gold and John Abraham’s Satyameva Jayate next week, probably not the best decision given Haasan’s limited appeal in the north Indian market. While it would be odd to not have the Tamil version release alongside the Hindi and Telugu ones, pirated copies of the film would most definitely be out without delay.
While Haasan’s team did not respond to Mint’s queries, Reliance Entertainment, distributors of the Hindi version of Vishwaroopam II said they were very positive about the film and its outcome.
“We’ve positioned it as a strongly patriotic and nationalistic film as the country gears up for its Independence Day celebrations," said Shibasish Sarkar, chief operating officer, Reliance Entertainment. Haasan plays an army officer fighting terrorists in the film that should notch up 1,000 screens for its Hindi version. Sarkar added that enough audiences may or may not know about the first part that came more than five years ago. To build familiarity, the film has been aired on television for the last couple of days.
“It’s not just another dubbed film. We also want to position it as a mass action film because the stunts are of very high scale," Sarkar said. From a marketing point of view, Sarkar said Haasan’s foray into politics warranted interactions with not just entertainment, but mainstream media as a whole. The lead actor has also promoted the film extensively on Hindi general entertainment channel shows, including 10 Ka Dum and Indian Idol.
Most importantly, a lot has changed for multi-lingual films in the five years since the release of Vishwaroopam.
“Chances of audiences opening up to a different star cast (from a different region) were limited. Now the market is very pro-active, both dubbed Hollywood and regional films have done well if the content has been appreciated," Sarkar said.