Rajnikant Vs Salman Khan Vs Mohanlal? UAE tilts the scales
NRI businessman roars with box office success of Pulimurukan
Mohanlal-starrer action thriller Pulimurugan is celebrating a roaring box office success, becoming the first Malayalam movie to gross over Rs100 crore (Dh55 million), in the process surpassing the success of Salman Khan's Sultan and Rajanikant's Kabali.
Tomichan Mulakuppadam, a UAE-based restaurant chain owner, invested Rs25 crore in the movie, and is the happiest NRI in town.
Mohanlal with Tomichan Mulakuppadam
"I invested Rs25 crore in the movie," he told Khaleej Times, and added that it was the most profitable investment he's ever made in his life.
"It is a big budget movie and the huge success of the movie is due to its high quality," he said.
"The movie was released in 82 theatres and 350 screens across the GCC. On the first day itself, all collection records, including those of Kabali and Sultan, were broken in the UAE," said said Rajan Varkala, Manager of Pars Films.
Pulimurugan was shot in multiple countries including South Africa, Vietnam and Thailand, as shooting with a tiger was not easy in India. The film has been dubbed in English, Tamil, Telugu and Vietnamese.
Known for producing low-budget movies, Mulakuppadam took a big leap of faith with this Mohanlal-starrer big-budget movie - and it is paying him rich dividends.
The Abu Dhabi-based NRI businessman and film producer said the movie was released across 3,000 theatres and made an unprecedented record box office collection.
The Malayalam film industry is facing a financial crisis thanks to piracy, proliferation of television soaps and a general lack of quality movies that can pull crowds to cinema theaters.
Directed by Vyshak, Pulimurugan tells the story man-animal conflict through Murugan, a resident adjutant to a forest area frequently threatened by wild animals.
The movie, centered around a tiger hunter, is shattering box office records not only in Kerala, but in the Gulf countries too.
Mohanlal fans created a sensation in theatres through various activities, and many of them could be seen were wearing Mohanlal masks. The All Kerala Mohanlal Fans Cultural Welfare Committee is planning to celebrate the movie's success.
"We had a grand programme on the inaugural day of Pulimurukan, which has now crossed Rs100-crore club. Big cut-outs and flex boards were placed in the theatres and, next Friday, we have another programme to celebrate the grand success of the movie," said Vijish Kasargode, President of the UAE Chapter of Mohanlal Fan club.
Malayalam film industry has been known more for its artistic values and low budget despite the heavy fees charged by superstars like Mohanlal and Mammootty.
Tomichan refused to reveal how much was paid to Mohanlal for the heroic role but said that, breaking conventional marketing gimmicks, the producer placed full-page advertisements in leading newspapers for the movie.
The NRI businessman who hails from Changanacherry in Kerala started working in a restaurant about 26 years ago, and today runs a mid-market restaurant in the UAE.
He said another of his movies, Pokkiri Raja, starring Malayalam star Mammotty, was also a successful movie venture.