Endhiran/Robo/Robot's success has hushed up the furore over dubbed movies having a swell time in Hyderabad.
Man, machine, mohabbat… was a rather cheesy tagline for a film futuristically titled Robot and became the butt of sms jokes before Rajnikanth's costliest film till date hit theatres. The jokes and debates about why Southern stars don't stir the box office across India died a quiet death once Shankar's Robot/Robo/Endhiran arrived. Trade pundits who did the math trying to gauge if Shankar's expensive gamble would recover its cost, are now trying to fathom the record-shattering collections.
Cinema halls in Hyderabad have been juggling show timings to meet the demands for the screening of Tamil, Telugu and the Hindi versions. Brave the serpentine queues and reach the ticket counter to be faced with a standard question: “Tamil, Telugu or Hindi?” before you get the tickets. It's more likely that you see houseful boards though.
Film buffs in the city have had the advantage of watching original films releasing alongside their dubbed/remade counterparts for quite some time now. Gautham Menon's Ye Maya Chesave did roaring business even as the Tamil version Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaye sailed through in three multiplexes, drawing moderate to full houses for 2-3 shows a day. Karthi's Awara, helped by Yuvan Shankar Raja's lilting tunes, earned him recognition among Telugu film goers. The Tamil original Paiyya, which released simultaneously, saw Tamilians settled in the city queuing up. And Mani Ratnam's Raavan and Villain were cold turkeys, but that didn't stop film buffs from checking out the Tamil original Raavanan and drawing comparisons between the different versions.
Srikanth, general manager, Prasads multiplex, sees this as a reflection of Hyderabad's cosmopolitan culture: “There was a time when original Tamil, Kannada or Malayalam films would be screened in Hyderabad a good two to three months after their release in the neighbouring states. And those screenings were confined to morning shows. The increased response to native films has made it possible to screen more shows. Hyderabad is no more a vernacular city. It's only fair that people get to see a film in their language of preference,” he says.
On Wednesday, a day before the release of NTR's Brindaavanam, Robo was being screened for 10 shows in a leading multiplex with each one of them running to packed houses. Vasu of Multidimensional Pictures that distributed the movie feels Hyderabad is at a stage where it can leverage on its multi-lingual population. The furore raised by a section of the industry over dubbed films getting prominence is unwarranted, he says. “To the audience, all that matters is an entertaining film. We released the Telugu version in 205 theatres in the Nizam region and the collections have been 85 to 90 per cent even during weekdays. Tamil Nadu and Kerala do not have a problem with dubbed films and given Hyderabad's cosmopolitan society, it shouldn't be an issue here,” he asserts.
Trade analyst Komal Nahata affirms that Endhiran/Robot has broken language barriers elsewhere in the country too. “Endhiran alone has made business more than Rs. 100 crore, the magic mark that distributors earned through 3 Idiots. North Indians who don't take kindly to Rajnikanth and other South Indian stars have accepted the film, which in itself is a huge success,” he sums up.
At the movies
According to exhibitors in Hyderabad, tickets were sold out for Endhiran sooner than they did for Robo and Robot. The film has been running to packed houses in all three languages, leaving theatre owners perplexed as to how to make way for this week's releases — Brindaavanam, Aakrosh and Knock Out.
The growing number of shows and response to originals like Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaya, Raavanan and Paiyya alongside the respective Telugu dubbed/remade versions Ye Maya Chesave, Villain and Awara are indicators to the city's cosmopolitan nature.
The distributors' share from Endhiran alone has surpassed the Rs. 100 crore, beating the previous record of 3 Idiots.
l Trade pundits note that Robot's acceptance in Mumbai, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan regions break the notion that Southern stars are paper tigers in Bollywood strongholds.