After its long tussle with the censor board, “Udta Punjab” opened at the theatres on Friday to a lukewarm response, especially in single-screen cinema halls. But the controversial film appears to have left an impression on the minds of moviegoers.
The initial response of the film, which addresses the issue of drug menace in Punjab, left the distributors disappointed on Day One, despite the controversy. The film has done relatively well in multiplexes.
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“The opening is just average and I think the film will just collect about Rs.8 to 9 crore on its first day, which is below our expectation. The opening has certainly not been encouraging considering the controversy,” distributor Rajesh Thadani told IANS.
The film, starring Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Diljit Dosanjh, got a wide release in around 2,000 screens.
Thadani added: “The film has not opened well in single screens and even in multiplexes, the film has opened well just in a few pockets.”
“Considering the controversies there were more expectation from the film in terms of its box office opening but strangely the numbers are not really encouraging,” he said.
The film’s release was beset with trouble after the Central Board of Film Certification first suggested 89 cuts, but later the Revising Committee asked for 13 cuts.
The makers moved the Bombay High Court which on Monday overruled the CBFC-recommended cuts and cleared it for release with just one cut and three disclaimers by the filmmakers.
The Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the way for its release after it refused to block a Bombay High Court order allowing its release. The Punjab and Haryana High Court also dismissed petitions seeking a stay on it.
However, its troubles didn’t end there. The film was leaked online before its official release, with co-producer Anurag Kashyap hinting at “vested interests” behind the online leak.
The film tries to bring out how the high of drugs is engulfing the younger generation in the northern state of Punjab.
A film distributor from Punjab, Surendra Saluja told IANS: “The opening shows were not that great but the next shows went houseful.”
Saluja said: “Now most of the shows are houseful in multiplexes but there is a major drop in single screens.”
According to Manoj Desai, Executive Director of Gaiety Galaxy and Maratha Mandir Cinema, “Udta Punjab” turned out to be a major let down at single screen theatre.
“The opening has been around 50 per cent. It’s a major let down. Most of them have even walked out of the film during interval. I don’t think the film will pick up in the single screens,” Desai said.
The distributors might not be elated with the initial response, but movie-goers have been full of praise about the Abhishek Chaubey directorial.
Young movie-buffs, after watching the film, told reporters, “I don’t know why CBFC was against the release of the film,” while another said that the “film was brilliant with great performances by Alia and Shahid”.
The film has elicited positive response from the critics as well. Rajeev Masand said that “It is not a great movie but gives a sense of reality”, while film expert Anupama Chopra tweeted that “In ‘Udta Punjab’, fact meets fiction seamlessly. The film must be seen.”
CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani also wished success for the makers of “Udta Punjab”.
He told reporters: “My well wishes are with the makers and the producers of ‘Udta Punjab’. I hope it gets great success.”
The film is co-produced by Phanton Films and Balaji Motion Pictures.