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Marathi film Sher Shivraj is managing an impressive run at the box office, having made over 4 crore over its opening weekend despite competition from Hindi release Jersey. Directed by Digpal Lanjekar, the film features Chinmay Mandlekar and Mrinal Kulkarni and is based on incidents from the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

To be sure, a bunch of smaller, regional language films in Marathi, Punjabi and Bengali are doing well despite the Bollywood storm at the box office led by Gangubai Kathiawadi and The Kashmir Files over the past few months. Marathi films Pawankhind, Jhimma and Pandu and Punjabi film Aaja Mexico Challiye have benefited from pent-up demand among audiences who have stayed at home for long and the fact that multiplexes often plan region-wise showcasing to give them adequate space. Trade experts also say that people have discovered so much content during the lockdown that they now keep track of offerings in multiple languages and the word-of-mouth for them on social media.

For example, Pawankhind, a historical drama based on the life of Marathi warrior Baji Prabhu Deshpande, had made Rs. 12.17 crore in its first week in theatres in February, at a time when Maharashtra was still operating at 50% capacity. Aaja Mexico Challiye, starring popular Punjabi singer and actor Ammy Virk, on the other hand, had earned close to Rs. 4 crore over its opening weekend.

Trade experts say regional content has benefited post the pandemic from people wanting to step out of home and looking for fun experiences with the family, after remaining locked up for so long. Besides, people have discovered and watched so much new content at home during the pandemic that their whole perspective has changed towards regional language films and shows. They keep track of whatever is being spoken about or trending on social media and the word-of-mouth around it. In several places in Maharashtra, Marathi films are even doing better than Hindi titles.

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