King Khan’s ‘Pathaan’ smashes Indian box office records

MUMBAI (AFP): Superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s new film “Pathaan” has smashed Indian box office records following its release last week, bringing hope to Bollywood after a spate of weak showings.

“Pathaan” recorded the highest-ever box office collections for a Hindi film for its opening and second day in India, and raked in 2.5 billion rupees ($30 million) in its first five days, trade analyst Taran Adarsh tweeted Sunday.

Its international ticket sales soared past one billion rupees ($13.7 million) in just three days, according to Yash Raj Films, which produced the movie.

It comes after glitzy Hindi-language Bollywood films struggled at the box office following the reopening of Indian cinemas about a year ago after a pandemic hiatus.

“The unprecedented celebratory success of ‘Pathaan’ I think speaks volumes about where we are headed as the Hindi movie industry,” movie theatre chain owner Akshaye Rathi said on Monday.

“Here we are back to the old school way of celebrating cinema in theatres as a community viewing experience.”

The release of “Pathaan”, 57-year-old Khan’s first movie in four years, had been highly anticipated.

Khan, popularly known as “King Khan”, has a huge fan following around the world. The film also features Bollywood heart-throb Deepika Padukone and action hero John Abraham.

Videos shared on social media showed fans in Indian cinemas dancing and cheering during the film.

In recent months, “Pathaan” and other Bollywood films — particularly those starring actors from India’s Muslim minority such as Khan — have been criticised by Hindu right-wingers on social media, with activists calling for boycotts.

Hardline Hindu groups had called for “Pathaan” to be banned because Padukone wore a saffron-coloured bikini — a colour associated with their religion — in one of the film’s songs.

Last year, films from southern India, such as Telugu-language “RRR”, dominated box office takings.

“RRR” has also been feted internationally, winning a Golden Globe for best song and scoring an Oscar nomination in the same category.