PARIS: The next time you stroll down
principal avenues of this French capital, don't be too surprised if you run into
Indian actor Aamir Khan.
For, the image of the hero-producer of
stares down from dozens of
posters plastered around Paris even as the film continues an unprecedented
successful run for a Hindi film in France. As the film enters its ninth week on
French screens, it continues to pull crowds in two chic Parisian theatres where
it is still being screened.
Located bang in the middle of Avenues des
Champs Elysees, perhaps the most famous avenue in the world, stands Theatre
Balzac. And juxtaposed with the famous St. Germain des Pres church in the heart
of the art district of Paris is the St. Germain des Pres theatre.
these two, the film is also running in 28 other theatres across France,
including principal cities like Lyon in the south or Lille in the north,
has a series of firsts
for a "mainline" commercial Indian film. It became the first film to be
distributed in France by an independent French distributor, while most titles
distributed so far have been handled by a subsidiary of one of the large US
distributors or studios.
had its premiere in Paris on
June 26, it was yet another first. More than 500 people gathered for the opening
night, an event attended by its director, Ashutosh Gowarikar, a host of Parisian
celebrities and a live python snake among others.
Accompanied by a flurry
of favourable reviews in the French press, the film hit a record seven screens
in Paris. The film's opening was preceded by an aggressive publicity campaign,
on which the distributor says he spent over $200,000, the biggest ever ad budget
for a Hindi film in the French market.
And the combination of press reviews
and ad campaign, besides the nomination of the film for Oscars, did the trick.
"For the first several weeks, the film was running to packed capacity in most
screens here," says a beaming Laurent Danielou, head of acquisitions at Rezo
Films, the distributor who has bought the rights of the film for the French
market as well as some French speaking markets in North Africa.
Rezo is one
of the top five independent distributors in France. Danielou's statement is
borne out by several Parisians who tried to get a ticket for
in the first few weeks. "I tried
to go so many times to see the film in the July. But every time, I would run
into the houseful signs at the cinema theatres," says Claire France, a
26-year-old student, who had to wait until last week to get a chance to see the
film as holiday season was finally gripping Paris.
Viewers admit they were
curious to see the film largely because of its nomination for the Oscars.
"Normally, I would not like to see a Hindi film, they are so long and full of
dances and other stuff. But when
was nominated for the Oscars, I wanted to see what it was all about," remarks a
documentary filmmaker, adding that she was finally disappointed. "It was good
visually, but the story was very weak."
Danielou says so far over 45,000
have been sold, a
record for a Hindi film in the French market. So well has the movie done in
theatres that even Sony Music, the company that holds the rights to the film's
music, is making its
's music tapes and
CDs are believed to be selling tremendously in large music stores like Virgin
and Fnac. Danielou says he will keep the film in Paris for at least another six
weeks, since business will pick up again once Parisians come back from their
annual vacation in another 10 days or so.
"We will keep it in Paris till
the end of September for sure and in other theatres in France till the end of
November or may be more," Danielou told IANS.