|HOME | US EDITION | MOVIES|
January 27, 2000
You see, phir bhi dil hai Hindustani
Arctic winds and a cold winter blast did not dampen the enthusiasm of desi moviegoers in North America for director Aziz Mirza's musical comedy with a patriotic twist, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. The strong opening for the film also lifted the dark cloud that had hung over Bollywood films that have been released here since the last big hit of 1999, Rajshri Production's Hum Saath-Saath Hain.
In its opening weekend, Phir Bhi... grossed a respectable $ 367,000, with a high per screen average of $ 7,814. According to the Hollywood trade publication, Daily Variety, it ranked number 27 among the movies showing in the US and just a spot below last weekend's big Golden Globe winner, American Beauty. (Director Sam Mendes's American Beauty is on its last legs, being kept alive by its producers, since the film is expected to win several Oscar nominations next month).
Phi Bhi... stars the current reigning superstar of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan with Juhi Chawla. The two stars, along with director Mirza, have also produced the film, their first venture under the Dreamz Unlimited banner.
"The film has had a strong response," Behram Shahparast, a spokesperson for Eros Entertainment told rediff.com He added his company expected repeat audiences to visit theaters showing the film over the next weekend. Eros Entertainment released Phir Bhi... on 47 screens over the weekend beginning January 21.
At Regal Cinemas in North Bergen, NJ approximately 4,000 people saw Phir Bhi... over the opening weekend, with half of them visiting the theater on January 22.
"The film pulled in enough people, despite the cold weather," said Gautam Shah, who leases Regal Cinemas, said. During the weekend, Shah had Phir Bhi... showing simultaneously on four screens. He said all the shows were sold out on Saturday evening.
Regal Cinemas, with its comfortable stadium type seats, normally show second-run Hollywood films -- such as The Sixth Sense and The Bone Collector -- at a discounted price. The 13 theaters at Regal Cinemas range in capacity from 95 to 300 seats.
The opening night screening of Phir Bhi... at the 800-seat Strand theater in North Plainfield, NJs was 50 per cent full, despite the sub-freezing level temperatures, according to Suri Gopalan, a spokesperson for the theater.
Gopalan said on Saturday the theater was 80 to 90 per cent full. He added that the film appeared to be popular among younger audiences and that he expected a larger turnout for the next weekend, when the temperature is expected to be relatively higher.
Strand is run by Vista-India, one of the largest wholesale distributors of Indian music in North America. Gopalan said Sony Music has given the biggest-ever launch for a Bollywood film to the soundtrack of Phir Bhi... The uniquely packaged compact disc contains three bonus tracks, all re-mixes of the hit title song from the film.
"So far, sales have been brisk," Gopalan said. "But we have been waiting for the film to be released to give the music sales a big boost."
Cold weather, snow and closed highways also had impact on Phir Bhi's fate in the mid-west. At Indianapolis's 400-seat IMAX theater, the Saturday and Sunday screenings of the film were approximately 75-80 per cent full.
The theater was leased by an Indianapolis-based company, Shyaam Entertainment, and its two co-owners Dr Narayan Raman and Jai Patel. The group has previously screened Subhash Ghai's Taal and Sooraj Barjatya's Hum Saath-Saath Hain on the IMAX screen. Shyaam Entertainment also rents theaters to show Bollywood films in several other mid-western cities, including Columbus, Cleveland, and Dayton (all in Ohio), Kalamazoo, Lansing and Grand Rapids (all in Michigan) and St. Louis, MO.
Dr Raman said many people who had made advance reservations for the IMAX screening of the film, cancelled the tickets due to the severe weather conditions. The weekend screenings of Phir Bhi were also 70 per cent of capacity at the West Port Cinema in St Louis, MO and the Mapletown Theater in Cleveland, OH.
Official box office figures for last week's release, Rakesh Roshan's Kaho Naa Pyar Hai, were not available. However, the film's distributor, Yash Raj Films, said, in its second week, the film was still showing on approximately 15 screens across North America.
On January 22, AVS, a nationally-syndicated desi show, ran a box office report on Kaho Naa with on-the-spot interviews of audiences at a local theater in New Jersey. Most people interviewed there praised the movie and its young male lead, Hrithik Roshan.
Gopalan of Vista India said at a recent screening of Kaho Na... at the Naz 8 Cinemas in Fremont, CA he was surprised to see several young Hispanic teenagers checking out the film.
He said Hrithik's 'Ricky Martin' looks seemed to be making him very popular among young teenagers, adding that in addition to buying the soundtrack of Kaho Naa people were also demanding the film's promotional posters.
SINGLES | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | MILLENNIUM | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK