Bhatts' 'Jannat' breaks jinx, hits bull's eye

By Jivraj Burman

Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) Barring a select few like "Lagaan" and "Chak De! India", movies based on the sports theme have hardly clicked at the box-office. But the Emraan Hashmi starrer "Jannat", about match fixing in cricket, has proved the world wrong.

Released with 317 prints on 700 screens across the country, the film produced by Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt has completed two weeks and in Mumbai alone it has garnered more than Rs.20.5 million.

The film's all India collection is about Rs.200 million and the movie has already made profits, considering that it was made on a modest budget of Rs.100 million.

Approaching the third week of its run in 47 cinemas in Mumbai, it continues to draw house-full crowds here.

Ashok Ahuja, director of Percept Picture Company which is the distributor of the film, gives credit to the marketing strategy for its success.

"The out of the box marketing strategy has played an important role in the success of the film. Though it had only one star, we changed the perception of the film through marketing and it has paid off," said Ahuja.

He also claims that it is the first hit of the year in the true sense.

"Although people say 'Race', etc., are hits, the distributors of those films barely recovered the money. Only producers earned profit. But as far as 'Jannat' is concerned, both the distributors and sub-distributors have earned profits."

This is also Emraan's first big hit after duds like "Awarapan", "The Train" and "Good Boy, Bad Boy".

"It's for the first time that an Emraan Hashmi film was released with so many prints in the country," added Ahuja. The money largely went into adding production values - a commercial need the Bhatts realised belatedly.

"It is the film's making in totality which has made it appealing to the audience. We knew it would be a big hit and it is, is it not?" quipped Mukesh Bhatt.

According to him, "Jannat" will also have a longer run in Pakistan where it is running successfully at present.

"Over the years, we (Bhatts) have created a loyal audience in Pakistan, so that they look up to our production. And 'Jannat' is just the right film for them," Bhatt added.

Since cricket is a popular fodder in the Indian subcontinent, the Bhatts chose the appropriate time to release the movie - just when the Indian Premier League cricket matches reached the crescendo with the elimination process starting for a place in the semi final.

As no other major movies were released with "Jannat" - as producers feared the IPL would rob their chances at the box-office - it found the field open to itself and the movie being cricket-centric proved a boon.

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