Bollywood film “Mary Kom” hit 1,800 screens in the country and raked in Rs.28.32 crore in the opening weekend with maximum collections from Delhi and Mumbai. The film is going housefull in Assam and Meghalaya, but the overall contribution to the box office earnings from the region is just one per cent, said trade experts.
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About Manipur’s five-time World boxing champion M.C. Mary Kom, the film hit 72 cinemas in Assam and just two in Meghalaya. The footfall is overwhelming, but the total contribution is not much. “The subject of the film is known and Mary is from the northeast, so naturally there are sentiments attached,” a distributor from Assam told IANS. “There were many students who watched it on the first day itself. In both Assam and Meghalaya, the shows were houseful. Many were left inspired and clapped in the end of the film too,” he added.
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The northeast region, made of eight states, also including Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Sikkim, has a handful of operational cinema halls. “The Assam government is trying to pull the crowds by exempting entertainment tax on ‘Mary Kom‘.
But only one percent contribution was made to the domestic box office collection,” said the distributor. Assam’s Ashiq Zaman, a government official, was lucky to watch it on the first day and he found it “inspiring”, but he was not too convinced with Priyanka Chopra in the title role. “Northeast states are hardly highlighted in mainstream cinema, so I wanted to see how they would present Manipur and its people. Priyanka has done well, but it was like watching Tom Hanks (Hollywood actor) playing Muhammad Ali (former African American boxer),” said Zaman. “There were lot of Manipuri people in the audience.
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About 50 percent of the audience must have been Manipuri who are staying in Assam,” he added. Meanwhile, producers are trying to release the film in Kom’s hometown, where around 60 to 70 films in Meitei language are made in a year. But Hindi films screenings are banned since early 2000 due to an insurgent groups’ diktat. “Manipur release was initiated earlier, but there was no positive response as Hindi films are not screened there. However, all efforts are in the direction of getting a theatrical release in Manipur,” said a source from Viacom18 Motion Pictures. Whether it releases in Manipur or not, the people in the state are certainly not going to miss it.