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November 11, 1999
Barjatya Family Gets Record Wedding Gift
Aseem Chhabra in New York
With over 100,000 people turning up at 59 cinemas across America and about 35,000 in 28 banquet halls in England, Sooraj Barjatya's marriage special, Hum Saath-Saath Hain, created a record last weekend.
In the United States, Hum Saath... was the 20th highest grossing film event, ringing up $ 652,000 in three days; in England, with about $ 178,000 coming in, it was the 10th highest grossing film.
Barjatya's last film, Hum Aapke Hain Koun, is widely acknowledged as the all-time top ranking Bollywood film in North America with an estimated $ 2.5 million gross. Like the current film, Hum Aapke... was also produced for Barjatya's family concern, Rajshri Pictures, now in its sixth decade of business.
"This is the biggest-ever opening for a Bollywood film in America," said Behram Shahparast a spokesperson for the film's distributors, Eros Entertainment, from the company's offices in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
In Toronto, the film was shown on the giant IMAX screen at the Ontario Place Cinesphere Theater.
Earlier this year, in August, Subhash Ghai's Taal (also distributed by Eros) grossed approximately $ 600,000 in its opening weekend. Taal, a romantic musical set to the hit music of A R Rahman, ran in 44 auditoriums and was also ranked 20th among the movies running at that time.
Hum Saath... opened worldwide on Friday, November 5, and stars some Salman Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Mohnish Behl. The film's music and lyrics are the work of the same team that brought the hit music of Hum Aapke ... -- composer Ram-Laxman, and lyricists Ravinder Rawal and Dev Kohli.
In Fremont, California, Shiraz Jivani was thrilled with the success of Hum Saath... On Friday, November 5, Jivani opened his highly publicized eight-screen theater -- Naz 8 Cinemas -- the first multicultural multiplex in the US that will show Indian and other Asian films. Hum Saath...was released on six screens at Naz 8.
In the first three days of the film's opening, approximately 8,000 people had seen Hum Saath... at Naz 8, Jivani said. Over the weekend Jivani held 26 screenings of the film, with shows starting around noon, and then running every hour, on the hour.
All the evening shows were sold out, Jivani said. Naz 8 has a total capacity of 3,100 seats; it has two theaters that can accommodate 500 people each.
Jivani also runs the one-screen Naz Cinema a mile away from the new Naz 8. This August when Taal was released at the older theater, approximately 8,400 people saw the film in the first week.
"This film (Hum Saath ...) beat Taal by a long shot," Jivani said, declaring the new Rajshri film as "very successful".
At North Bergen, NJ's 13 screen multiplex -- Regal Cinemas, Hum Saath... performed extremely well, though it did not break the records set by Taal. Gautam Shah, a film promoter, who rents theaters from Regal Cinemas's owners said approximately 5,500 people saw Hum Saath... in the opening weekend. In August, approximately 6,600 people visited Regal Cinemas to view Taal.
Normally Regal Cinemas, with its comfortable stadium-type seats shows second run Hollywood films -- such as American Pie and Blue Streak -- at a discounted price. The 13 theaters at Regal Cinemas range in capacity from 95 to 300 seats.
On Friday, November 5, and Sunday, November 7, Shah showed Hum Saath... on seven screens. However, due to the popularity of the film, on Saturday, November 6, it was running on 11 screens, every hour on the hour.
All the evening shows were sold out, he added. Earlier this summer, Regal Cinemas and Gautam Shah made history in North America by showing Taal on all 13 screens during the film's opening weekend.
Shah speculated the lower attendance of Hum Saath... could be attributed to the fact that the opening of the film coincided with the Diwali holiday weekend. He said e expected more people to watch the movie at his h theaters during the week and the next weekend.
"It is a great, family-oriented movie," Shah said, adding that he expected repeat audiences.
At the Strand Theater, the 1,000-seat auditorium in Plainfield, New Jersey, approximately 2,000 people saw Hum Saath... in this last weekend. Again, while this number is impressive, it is lower than the number of people -- 3,000 -- who saw Taal at the Strand during that film's opening weekend.
Suri Gopalan, who owns the theater, attributed the lower than expected turnout to three reasons.
"It was a very good opening," Gopalan said. "However we didn't get as many people (as he expected) because of the Diwali festival."
In addition, Gopalan noted that Hum Saath... did not have a strong storyline and instantly hummable music like Hum Aapke... and Taal.
"In case of Taal, the music drove people into the theater," he said, adding that most Rajshri's films are "products that catch up with time."
"Initially the music sales for Hum Saath-Saath Hain were disappointing" he said. Gopalan also heads Vista India, a New Jersey-based music distribution company and is the East Coast representative for RPG Music.The soundtrack for Hum Saath... is RPG's biggest release in 1999.
Since the release of Hum Saath...on November 5, Gopalan said, the soundtrack sales for the movie have picked up. This gives him hope that the film "may pull better the next weekend."
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