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Ra.One banks on festival of lights

Mumbai: Keeping its conventional date with Diwali, the festival of lights, Bollywood is banking on the weekend release of three films, including Shahrukh Khan`s much-awaited opus `Ra.One`, to rake in the moolah. It`s conventional wisdom in Bollywood to release movies during Diwali in a bid to set the Box Office register ringing. And this Diwali too is no exception.

Setting the tone is Shahrukh Khan`s most ambitious project `Ra.One` which is releasing on Wednesday followed by Hema Malini`s `Tell Me O Khuda` and Himesh Reshammiya`s `Damadamm`.

Trade analysts feel `Ra.One` with its innovative and aggressive marketing coupled with planned promotional drive will take the shine off the two other films. "People not only in India but also abroad are looking forward to `Ra.One`. The other two films-`Tell Me o Kkhuda` and `Damadamm` will be affected due to `Ra.One`," trade analyst Taran Adarsh told PTI.

Diwali is a big gamble for the tinsel town managers. Last year, `Golmaal 3` and `Action Replayy`, directed by Rohit Shetty and Vipul Shah respectively vied for the box office pie. While the former managed to cut across the audiences, `Action Replayy` failed to make much impact even after having formidable star cast like Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan and Akshay Kumar.

In the 1990`s too movies released during the festival of lights had boosted the prospects of many films, prominent among them being Yash Chopra`s `Veer Zaara`, `Mohabatien` (2000), `Dil Toh Pagal Hai` (1997), `Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge` (1995), Karan Johar`s `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai` (1998), Sooraj Barjatiya`s `Hum Saath Saath Hain` (1999) among others.

Trade pundits are almost unanimous in their prediction that `Ra.One` with the kind of hype it has generated besides unique genre will steal the show. "Today, there is a space for every film. Having two-three releases during the festive season is not a bad deal…as people have options. But looking at `Ra.One` promotions…the hype that is created around the film it is obvious that it will fare well at the box office," Manoj Desai, owner of Gaiety and Galaxy Cinema, said.

Directed by Anubhav Sinha, `Ra.One` casts Shahrukh, Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal in lead roles besides superstars Rajnikanth, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Priyanka Chopra making guest appearance. "Ra.One" will get the biggest and widest release ever.

The film releases in 3,500 screens worldwide. With Diwali on October 26, we will get a five-day weekend," Eros International, co-producer of `Ra.One`, CFO Kamal Jain, said. Bollywood`s tryst with festive season is not new rather is an established trend.

"Usually, the industry gets its biggest blockbusters during festive season. For big banners, October is a very crucial month. It is an important period for filmmakers to earn money as the collection goes up considerably. This year `Ra.One` will emerge as the winner," observed director Anees Bazmee whose film `Ready` was one of the biggest hits this year.

Another trade analyst Komal Nahta said, "Diwali is an important time for filmmakers to release movies as the business shoots upto 15 to 20 per cent more. Looking at the promotions of `Ra.One` and the curiosity generated around the movie it will do well at the box office. I expect the movie will make business of Rs 85 to 100 crore in the first weekend."

Besides `Ra.One`, Hema Malini`s `Tell Me O Khhuda`, viewed as comeback vehicle for daughter Esha Deol, is talk of the town. Esha will be seen sharing screen space with father Dharmendra for the first time in the flick.

Besides `Tell Me`…Himesh Reshammiya`s comedy flick `Damadamm` too is releasing on Thursday. This year`s biggest hits so far are Salman Khan starrer `Ready`, `Bodyguard`, Ajay Devgan`s `Singham` and Aamir Khan`s `Delhi Belly`. Obviously, all eyes are now set on `Ra.One`.

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