'Krrish' has record haul in North America ...


By Arun Kumar, Indo-Asian News Service

Washington, July 20 (IANS) Bollywood's first superhero "Krrish" has made it to two major American publications in one great leap across the seas to pose a challenge to America's own favourite Superman.

"Superman may have returned, but if he doesn't perform up to snuff his job could soon be outsourced to India," said Newsweek, but the Los Angeles Times was more direct: "Move over Superman, make room for Krrish."

The film that became a cultural phenomenon in India long before its worldwide June 23 release, has done well in Indian communities in the United States too, the Times noted.

In its first three days in North America, "Krrish" brought in $643,000 in 59 locations or just less than $11,000 per theatre. Worldwide, the box office haul was reported to be a record $15 million in its first week, almost double the $8 million raked in by the previous Indian record holder "Fanaa".

"Krrish" has turned out to have crossover appeal and has drawn a culturally diverse crowd, the daily said citing Dylan Marchetti, head of operations for the ImaginAsian theater in New York, part of the ImaginAsian Entertainment Inc., which brings pan-Asian programming to the United States. "It's played to crowds that were 50 percent non-Asian," he said.

Indian epics like the Ramayana are brimming with outsize figures, but up to now Indians have seen very few homegrown celluloid superheroes, said Newsweek in its piece on the movie that drew the biggest advance opening in the history of Hindi cinema.

Its $10 million budget is one of the biggest ever for a Hindi film, but still paltry compared with the $200 million reportedly spent on "Superman Returns", it noted and asked: "Is this the beginning of a new genre for Hindi films?"

"It lays the foundation of the superhero concept in Bollywood," Newsweek quoted the film's star and director Rakesh Roshan's son Hrithik Roshan as saying.

As Asian consumers flex their financial muscles, they will demand Hollywood-type products that are more in line with their own cultural identities, the news magazine cited renowned director Shekhar Kapur as arguing. With its lavish special effects and dramatic stunts, "Krrish" could easily bridge that gap, it suggests.

Roshan himself acknowledges that he made his film primarily for an Indian audience, but said he kept in mind the bigger international one. "You never know; it could catch on, like it happened for 'Crouching Tiger'," he says. Already the director is ready for a sequel with an "even bigger budget" - if the register tills continue to ring.