Monday, February 18, 2008

Protest increases Jodhaa Akbar's publicity

Ashutosh Gowariker, the man who almost won India an Oscar with LAGAAN is back. This time he brings another classic, JODHAA AKBAR. However, like with most big projects, the first formality, controversies and protests are welcoming the saga of the mighty Mughal Emperor Akbar (Hrithik Roshan), the rebellious Rajput princess Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) and their love that shaped the destiny of a subcontinent.

Without getting into the nitty-gritties of the synthetic controversy, Ashutosh puts it plainly - In the case of JODHAA AKBAR, things are already entrenched in history. Agra Fort exists, Amer Palace exists and all the milestone events in history exist. So there is no scope for fooling around. He also refers to his thorough study of world famous and well documented references like Akbarnama and Ain-e-Akbari, by Abul Fazal. He adds that he personally went to meet the Jaipur Royalty, who are themselves from the Kachchawa Dynasty, to which Jodhaa Bai belonged, and shared the script with them, much before canning the first shot!

In fact, as per the feedback, all the protests and disruptions are in a way hyping the movie more, and even those who were not inclined to see a three hour plus historical have been venturing out to the cinemas and checking out the movie! The reason is obvious. The projected negatives before JODHAA AKBAR's release like, long duration, colloquial Urdu and Hindi etc, have all become secondary and at the forefront is now the curiosity to check out why there have been protests and disruptions. One is reminded here of two earlier examples, Salman-Katrina's MAINE PYAAR KYUN KIYA and Manisha Koirala's EK CHOTI SI LOVE STORY, both of which saw enhanced collections after protests and controversies.

So is history going to repeat itself? The answer is most likely to be yes. The show disruptions have been at places where JODHAA AKBAR was not going to make a mark anyway. In Rajasthan, where the movie has not seen a release, the impact will be minimal as it is just a thirty percent territory. In the two biggest territories, Bombay and Delhi-UP, the film saw a good weekend run. Taking the all India scenario into account, initial trade estimations projects around 28-30 crore first week from India. And that is approximately what the blockbuster PARTNER earned in its opening week! Even the Overseas circuit has good news for the makers and confirmation of that is on way from both US and UK.

One feels that the makers should in a way thank the protesters for all the free publicity that their 40 crore venture JODHAA AKBAR has got. We are quite sure that if the movie becomes successful and the makers, while laughing all the way to the bank, will in no uncertain terms feel a sense of gratitude towards their grass-root level publicists!

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