Of Pakistan & Bollywood
The three Khans of Bollywood not only rule the Indian box-office, they are also the kings of Pakistan. Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots collected Rs 5 crore across the border and the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer My Name Is Khan raked in Rs 5.25 crore. The Salman Khan-starrer Bodyguard outdid them both by earning Rs 6 crore. Another Shah Rukh-starrer, Don 2, meanwhile, is expected to pull in Rs 7.25 crore. In fact, some experts say Pakistan is now one of Bollywood’s top five overseas markets and could soon rival the business done in Australia. The ban on Indian films was lifted across the border in 2006, but things began really hotting up a year later. After the ban on Indian films was lifted in Pakistan, two older films—Mahesh Bhatt’s ‘Awarapan’ and Sunny Deol’s ‘Kaafila’ —were symbolically released there. The John Abraham-starrer ‘Goal’ was the first new Indian release to open there in November 2007. It released with seven prints, but within two years the print run of Hindi films multiplied thrice over. ‘3 Idiots’, released in 2009, was shown on 22 screens. ‘Don 2’, released in 2011, had 38 screens. Now, there are about 80 cinemas there and trade pundits say another 20 could be added in two years. About 50 Hindi films release in Pakistan now every year and the big ones have the ability to do business of US $1 million (Rs 4 crore to 5 crore) or more, said Pakistani sources. All the top Khan films are sold for $200,000 to $300,000 (Rs 1 crore to 1.5 crore). Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan and Akshay Kumar films go for $75,000 to $150,000 (Rs 37.5 lakh to 75 lakh), said experts. Bollywood can’t ignore Pakistan now as an overseas market. Trade pundits said the business pattern in Pakistan is similar to that of the Punjab territory in India.