New Delhi: Regional language films seem to have made a habit of beating Bollywood movies at what was for long, a one-sided game. Released last Friday, Gujarati comedy Shu Thayu? had made 6.51 crore within four days, with a nominal screen count of 212 only in the Mumbai and Gujarat circuit. Meanwhile, the Hindi releases of the week, Sonakshi Sinha-starrer Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi and action thriller Genius, made 13.10 crore and 3.5 crore from 1,550 and 800 screens respectively from a pan-India release.

“Shu Thayu registered close to 90% occupancy from the first show itself, and exhibitors only increased shows then onwards also as the Hindi films did not generate impressive footfalls," said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema, emphasising on the fact that regional films might begin small, but drive in more audiences and sustain better in the long run.

Mohan added regional films have made a habit of combining strong storylines with commercial treatment and appealing to entertainment-starved audiences, who may be turned off by Bollywood’s increasingly urban, intellectual vibe. Plus, local language jokes, nuances and gags go a long way in establishing a connection with people in a particular region.

According to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report 2018, Gujarati films registered a 44% increase in 2017 over 2016 in terms of transactions on online ticketing site BookMyShow.

Shu Thayu? comes from the stable of Belvedere Films, the production company behind Gujarati blockbusters, including Chhello Divas, a campus comedy that was an instant hit with the college crowd and Karsandas Pay & Use, another mainstream entertainer. Shu Thayu? completes the hattrick of hits.

Meanwhile, the overseas reign of the two Hindi Independence Day releases, Akshay Kumar’s Gold and John Abraham’s Satyameva Jayate, has been threatened by a Telugu film titled Geetha Govindam, whose opening weekend business (AS $202,266) in Australia was more than the combined earnings of the two Bollywood films (AS $192, 306).

The film that made another $2,084,822 in the US stars young actor Vijay Deverakonda in the lead, best known for the 2017 blockbuster Arjun Reddy, a modern-day take on Devdas. Gold and Satyameva Jayate earned $968,377 and 194,022, respectively, in the US. Despite a thin storyline, according to reviews, the Telugu film worked because of Deverakonda’s easy charm and the entertaining romance.

“Telugu film Geetha Govindam remains the first choice, sidelining all new releases and holdover titles (Indian films) in USA," tweeted trade analyst Taran Adarsh. “Vijay Deverakonda has built a strong fan-base in the US. Geetha Govindam is his first solo lead to cross $2 million. The actor has two million dollar movies under his belt: Pelli Choopulu and Arjun Reddy.

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