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|June 28, 2001||
Lagaan will be Aamir's biggest hit!
Arthur J Pais
Backed by strong word of mouth, Lagaan defied the box-office trend for most desi movies and posted a powerful $ 240,000 in North America last weekend, taking its gross to a commendable $ 590,000.
Most Indian films lose about 50 of their BO in the second weekend but Lagaan took a slim fall of about 16 per cent.
In England, too, it dropped by a small margin. Showing on 23 screens there (34 screens in North America), "Lagaan" has grossed about $250,000.
It was the 19th top grossing film in North America and tenth in the UK last week.
"People are going to see the film because of Aamir Khan but there are many other reasons for its success," said Charu Benegal of Sony Entertainment Television.
"They expected an honest film and even those who do not understand cricket seem to enjoy it."
"It is a feelgood movie," Benegal says. The "adreneline rush you get through the cricket match," is a big plus for the movie, she said.
Gadar - Ek Prem Katha, which opened the same week as "Lagaan" has grossed about $ 120,000 -- not a bad earning for a Sunny Deol film. It could end with about $180,000.
Aamir Khan, of course, is a far bigger name in America. Though his Mann was a big flop, he has a good track record, with 1947 - Earth earning over $ 600,000.
"Aamir is the only well known actor (in Lagaan and usually in the US, films with unknown actors do not do well," Benegal says. "But Lagaan worked because each actor has a strong role, strong presence."
If the film did not open with a Taal like bang, there were reasons. Apart from the length of Lagaan, which limited the number of shows, audiences did not know what the film was exactly about.
"We thought it was a patriotic film, like a Manoj Kumar film," said Radha Sharma, who decided to see it only after many college friends saw it and raved about it. "Now, I can tell many others that the film is about history, about the British, about a fight against colonialism," the young businesswoman said.
"But it is also a stirring film. It has haunting music, lovely dances and plenty of fun."
Charu Bengeal echoes Sharma's feelings. "People were initially confused because the promos did not give away much about the story line," she says "For instance, no one knew that the film is about cricket. That element of the film was kept low key."
Going into the third week the film might drop five screens in North America.
Lagaan is surely going to be Aamir Khan's highest grossing film in the US, with 1947 - Earth occupying second place.
With inputs by Aseem Chhabra
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