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Piracy, poor publicity spoil 'Slumdog's' India collections

New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) What's stopping 'Slumdog Millionaire' from making a killing in India - the country that forms its backdrop - like it has abroad? A late release, widespread piracy and poor publicity, say those in the trade.

2009-02-22T08:14:00Z
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New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) What's stopping 'Slumdog Millionaire' from making a killing in India - the country that forms its backdrop - like it has abroad? A late release, widespread piracy and poor publicity, say those in the trade.

Released in India Jan 23, the underdog-wins drama by British director Danny Boyle managed a meagre Rs.215 million - only four percent of its global collections worth over $100 million - even though it has got 10 Oscar nominations.

'By the time it came to India, it was already out in the market on pirated discs and the majority of people had downloaded and seen the English movie,' Joginder Mahajan, a Delhi-based distributor, told IANS.

'Considering its availability over the internet and the movie-sharing culture in schools, colleges and offices - the majority of the audience was already exhausted by the time it hit the theatres here. Whatever business it has managed has been mostly due to word of mouth,' he said.

Said an official from PVR Cinemas: 'The movie didn't get a good initial response, but it fared well gradually by word of mouth. The collections in the end in fact turned out to be quite well in terms of a foreign movie.

'However, it suffered in terms of revenue in India vis-�-vis the West because it is a movie for the gentry and not the masses,' the official told IANS, not wishing to be identified as he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company.

Based on Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup's novel 'Q&A', 'Slumdog Millionaire' stars British Indian debutant Dev Patel and actress Frieda Pinto in the lead, apart from Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan in pivotal roles.

The record-breaking ticket surge overseas for 'Slumdog Millionaire' came courtesy its win of four Golden Globes and 11 BAFTA nominations.

The movie has been touted as a complete Bollywood potboiler, with its Indian essence being one of the reasons it clicked abroad, international experts had cited earlier.

Bollywood director Priyadarshan gave a different reason for the movie faring well internationally. 'The West loves to see us as a wasteland, filled with horror stories of exploitation and degradation,' he said.

An official from Fox Searchlight, which distributed the movie in India, however, contradicted the notion that collections had been poor in India: 'Slumdog...' has been one of the record-breaking movies here too apart from overseas.

'The Hindi version of the film 'Slumdog Crorepati' did good business here, contributing 30 percent more revenue to the distributors,' the official added.

Some reports suggest that 'Slumdog...' has grossed in the third highest for any Western release in India after 'Spider-Man 3' (2007) and 'Casino Royale' (2006).

A crew member of the movie said on condition of anonymity: 'It's quite unfortunate that despite being set here, it didn't make it big in terms of business in comparison to a spectacular record abroad. It also released a little late here, though piracy didn't affect it that much.

'It's the bad word-of-mouth publicity by jealous Indian filmmakers and low promotion that affected the common man's perception towards the film. The film wasn't pushed to many theatres in Hindi, which is the widely spoken language here,' the member explained.

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