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Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Pathaan’ Sees Exceptional Bollywood Opening Despite Protests

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Shah Rukh Khan’s Hindi spy thriller opened to packed cinemas in India on Wednesday in one of the best Bollywood openings ever, despite protests from some religious groups over scenes they deemed obscene .

The success of “Pathaan,” where Khan plays a spy battling a militant outfit, is crucial for India’s film industry which has seen a series of high-profile flops since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Netflix (NFLX. O) and Amazon (AMZN.O) brought varied and much cheaper content home.

“It saw an outstanding opening, the second-best in Bollywood, even on a non-holiday, mid-week, when audiences aren’t going to the cinemas,” said producer and business analyst Girish Johar, who tracks box-figures from desk.

Film critic Taran Adarsh ​​said Pathaan, which marks Khan’s return to the big screen after four years, sold around 556,000 tickets on day one, just behind record-breaking ‘Baahubali 2”s 650,000 on day one. .

“Pathaan has it all: star power, style, scale, songs, soul, substance and surprises,” Adarsh ​​tweeted, adding that Khan was “back with a vengeance.”

Of the 5,000 screens Pathaan played in, occupancy was high at 65% to 75%, a rarity in Bollywood for a movie opening day, Johar said, especially since it was in middle of the week.

The film will now be shown on 8,000 screens, including 2,500 overseas where Khan has strong viewership, Adarsh ​​said.

Right-wing Hindu nationalist groups had in recent days protested the film as promotional trailers showed lead heroine Deepika Padukone in an orange bikini, dancing to a racy song. The groups said the scenes denigrated the Hindu religion, which reveres the color saffron as a symbol of spirituality.

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