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|May 14, 1999||
Sarfarosh Roars Across America
Arthur J Pais
After a lean season in which the likes of Silsila Hai Pyar Ka did poor business, the $ 180,000 gross for Sarfarosh last week was a relief to distributors Eros Entertainment. To the moviegoers too the film was a refreshing treat.
"It is fast moving, has great acting and the music is beautiful," said Simran Bajwa, a graduate student in New York, who was going to see it again this week. "And it involves you emotionally."
The movie, playing in 24 theaters averaged a strong $ 7,700 per house, and was listed 33rd amongVariety's top 100 films of the week. Sarfarosh has connected with all segments of moviegoers, said a spokesperson for Eros. If the current phase continues, the film could gross over $ 500,000, making it as strong a hit as Dil Se, a domestic dud but a huge hit in England, where it grossed over $ 1 million, and a crowd-pleaser in America with over $ 500,000 at the box-office. In many New York and San Jose area theaters, bouncers were hired for several days to keep the teens under control.
Several of the eagerly awaited Hindi films have bombed in recent weeks, and the success of Sarfarosh has ended the famine.
Lal Badshah, which appealed mostly to older audiences, collected a disappointing $ 102,708 in the first week in 24 movie houses averaging a measly $ 4,279, and fizzled out within two weeks. Amitabh Bachchan movies are drawing increasingly older audiences who do not go for see a film more than once.
Sarfarosh is a good date movie, said many teens at a New Jersey theater last week. Some said they had not expected much from the film and the emotional content of the film was a definitive surprise for them.
"There are times you get very disappointed with a film because there has been so much of hype about it," said Bajwa. And that seemed to be the problem with Silsila Hai Pyar Ka, which grossed $ 89,280 in one week in 19 movie houses, with an average gross of $ 4,698.
"Despite video piracy, people love to see a film on a big screen," said Joe Perusad. "We want to see Indian films with our friends, away from the home, so that we can react to them spontaneously. But many times the films are so bad, we feel we have wasted our money."
There are more than 60 movie houses that show Hindi films across America -- most of them are concentrated in New York and Los Angeles areas; some have at least one show during the week and three on the weekend, some show Indian films only at the weekends.
Distributors say that though films such as Dil Se and Sarfarosh have done excellent business in recent months, the box-office could be five to six times more. "There are about 1.2 million people of Indian origin in America," says Manu Savani, a West-coast based distributor. "And there are over 2 million people from Pakistan and Bangladesh -- and over 1 million people of Indian origin from the Caribbean and West Indies. With over 4 million potential viewers, a major hit should make more than $ 2 million."
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