New Delhi: As S.S. Rajamouli’s Baahubali inches towards the 600 crore mark worldwide including 100 crore at the box office from the Hindi version alone, upcoming Tamil fantasy spectacle Puli is generating great interest, thanks to its ensemble cast and big budget. The film starring south superstar Vijay, Shruti Hassan, Sudeep and Hansika Motwani will also see Sridevi making a comeback in an important role.

The film whose budget a person familiar with the matter describes simply as “running into three-digit crores" will be released simultaneously in Telugu and Hindi on 1 October.

“I have to be honest that Hindi is a huge market for the film," said director Chimbu Devan. “But then, this also happens to be a universal story of fantasy and adventure that will appeal to all audiences. The plus is they will get to see Sridevi after a long gap."

While comparisons with the recent bilingual mega hit Baahubali are inevitable, Devan says the most important difference between the two films is that there is no war in his. “I would tell audiences to not compare the two movies. Ours is just a family entertainer with action, love and of course, surprises."

Chinni Nihalani whose Vishaldeep International has bought the all-India distribution rights of the film says there was always a plan to release the film in Hindi owing to its scale. Moreover, it was made almost at the same time as Baahubali and nobody had anticipated that the latter would work like a gem and show the way.

“Baahubali worked better than many Hindi films in north India and set a benchmark. But actually, it’s all about content. If the film is good and has all ingredients to entertain, it does well," he said.

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh emphasizes that there is a very good buzz for the film in the Hindi market. “The film boasts of names known in the Hindi belt. Plus, the teaser shows that this will be a different experience."

For North Indian audiences, Puli will release alongside Akshay Kumar-starrer Singh Is Bling and Meghna Gulzar’s take on the Aarushi Talwar case Talvar. Gulzar’s film received an overwhelming response when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last week with critics calling it “an epic look at two gruesome killings" and “a deeply satirical picture" that will shock and unsettle audiences.

The Akshay Kumar-starrer is more similar in genre to the south Indian spectacle and has been directed by Prabhu Deva. The actor and director had earlier collaborated on action-comedy Rowdy Rathore (2012) that made more than 130 crore at the Indian box office. Kumar’s last two releases Brothers and Gabbar Is Back earned more than 80 crore each. But a clash with these films does not worry the Puli team.

“Talvar is of course completely serious. Yes, Singh Is Bling and Puli are both big-ticket films," admitted Nihalani. “But there have been so many instances of big films releasing and doing well together, be it Lagaan and Gadar or Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Son of Sardar. Ultimately, the merit of the film speaks. And we’d want all movies to prosper."

Puli is expected to release on 3,500 screens worldwide, according to movie website Filmi Beat.

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