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Has Chennai Express REALLY broken 3 Idiots' BO record?

By Sonil Dedhia
August 29, 2013 16:46 IST
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Shah Rukh Khan in Chennai ExpressIs Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Chennai Express the biggest hit of all time? Has it really beaten Aamir Khan's 3 Idiots, which has been the record-holder till date?

All sorts of box office figures have been thrown about, so we decided to investigate the matter.

Some trade analysts claim the 3 Idiots record of Rs 202.46 crores has been broken, while others say Chennai Express touched the Rs 200 crore mark only on August 28.

Chennai Express has managed to collect Rs 201.15 crores till August 28. That's just a crore short of the record held by 3 Idiots," says trade analyst Amul Mohan. “It’s just a matter of time before the film becomes the new benchmark.”

The Chennai Express team, meanwhile, claimed the film had broken the 3 Idiots record on August 24 itself.

Shah Rukh Khan, in a tweet, called Chennai Express the number one film in the history of Hindi movies, while trade analyst Taran Adarsh tweeted that Chennai Express headed the list of the biggest grossers in Hindi cinema.

According to Adarsh, Chennai Express raked in Rs 216.86 crores till August 28.

While discussing the box office figures of the two films, it's useful to keep in mind that while Chennai Express released in more than 3,500 screens in India and charged higher ticket prices, 3 Idiots released in approximately 1,800 screens, nearly half the number of the former.

Media professional and industry observer Abhijit Mhamunkar claims that Chennai Express has earned Rs 201 crores so far. "Chennai Express will surely beat 3 Idiots' s record. But why are the makers of the film in a hurry to announce it?" he asks.

 Despite making repeated attempts Shah Rukh's publicist remained unavailable for this report while an official from co-producer UTV-Disney refused to divulge the official box office figures. 

This makes us ask: Whose box office figures does one go by?

Consider this: In the first week of the film's release Taran Adarsh had tweeted that Chennai Express collected Rs 100.42 crores during the opening three-day weekend, while Amul Mohan had tweeted the collections as Rs 90.75 crores.

Shah Rukh’s publicist claimed the film had collected Rs 156.70 crores in its first week while Amul Mohan put the collections at Rs 147 crores.

Amul Mohan says box office figures can often vary. “There are many instances when the box office collections provided by the production house do not match the actual collections. Take, for instance, Ek Tha Tiger. The film did business worth Rs 187 crores, while Yash Raj Films claimed it collected Rs 199 crores. It was the same case with Barfi!, which collected Rs 106 crores; UTV said it collected Rs 122 crores.”

While minor differences are normal, a trade analyst who didn't want to be named says, "The absence of a central data collection agency compels the media to rely on the distributor and the producers of the film. It is difficult to authenticate the data."

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai