New Delhi: Superstar Rajinikanth’s action drama Kaala has registered a disappointing opening weekend for a film starring the legendary actor. The Pa. Ranjith-directed movie made Rs64.5 crore in India across the three languages—Tamil, Telugu and Hindi—it was released in, according to movie website Box Office India. That is far lower than Rajinikanth’s last release, Kabali, also directed by Ranjith, that had earned Rs109 crore over its opening weekend.

“The film hasn’t performed well at all as far as Rajinikanth’s track record goes," said film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar. “And that has happened even though the content is not all that bad."

According to Johar, while Rajinikanth has never really had a stronghold over North India, it is the southern part of the country that has thrown up the most shocking numbers. Released on Thursday, Kaala has made about Rs6.64 crore in Chennai city.

The movie’s Hindi version made about Rs4-4.5 crore over the opening weekend.

It is unclear whether Kaala’s lacklustre performance has to do with the political controversy around it or the film’s own logistical constraints. Rajinikanth’s recent comments on the Cauvery water sharing dispute had invited a ban on the movie from the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce.

And even though the film received a partial release in the state eventually, pro-Kannada groups managed to cause much chaos: screenings were stopped in many places, shows cancelled and fans refunded despite police protection.

The actor had also caused a stir in Tamil Nadu by describing anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi as “anti-social elements". That hurt Tamil sentiments, trade experts had pointed out before release, affecting the film’s prospects not just domestically but even in overseas territories where there is a significant Tamil population. Reports on Box Office India said Kaala has performed below expectations in territories like the US and the Far East where Rajinikanth commands a huge following.

The much delayed film also had to combat the dull Ramzan period in north India when most exhibitors are waiting to showcase Salman Khan’s Eid offering Race 3. There was barely any buzz or promotions for the Rajinikanth-starrer. There was also competition from the Hollywood science fiction movie Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that had higher screen count, 2,300 screens compared to Kaala’s 2,000 and has made Rs37.5 crore.

“It was disappointing fare from day one, though I don’t know why they chose to release on a Thursday instead of a Friday," said trade analyst Amod Mehra. “There was no word-of-mouth for it to grow and for people to like it or not. This should be the first and last week for the Hindi version of the film in theatres."

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