Bodyguard wows box-office home and abroad

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He is Bollywood’s biggest box-office star today. That’s what theatre-owner Rachit Malhotra thinks of Salman Khan. Malhotra owns Agra’s Jwala cinema, a giant single-screen theatre with an abundant 1,139 seats. Yet on Wednesday (Eid) and Thursday, they weren’t enough to accommodate the frenzied fans who queued outside for a ticket. Every show of Bodyguard, Salman’s latest release, was houseful. “For the audience, Salman is the film. Everything else is secondary. They aren’t just whistling when he bares his chest.
They are even dancing outside the hall. They know a Sallu bhai movie is always tension-free, with entertainment guaranteed,” says Malhotra. It’s a similar tale in each of the four single-screen theatres and the three multiplexes in the city of the Taj. “Combined, there are about 60 shows of Bodyguard every day in Agra. Most are houseful. That’s staggering,” he says. The success story is being replicated across India, even abroad. Trade expert Komal Nahta says the film raked in a record-breaking 11 lakh dirham (about Rs 1.36 crore) on Tuesday, the opening day in Dubai.
Even in UK, the first-day collection of 60,000 pounds (about Rs 44 lakh) was equally impressive. “The movie could cross Rs 85 crore in the first nine days. Overall, it could end up netting around Rs 125 crore,” says Film-Information Editor Nahta.Bodyguard’s box-office figures — his third major recent hit along with Dabangg (2010) and Ready (2011) — might bring a smile on the lips of India’s most famous bachelor. Smiling won’t be easy though. Salman has trigeminal neuralgia, a condition that causes acute pain in the jaw. He is currently undergoing treatment in the US. Like Bodyguard, Dabangg and Wanted (2009) were also released during Eid. “He has a huge following among the Muslim youth. With an Eid release he is able to capitalize on it,” says Nahta. That’s correct but not the full truth. The 45-year-old actor is equally popular among urban lower-middle class youth and the underclass across communities.