Vijay's Sarkar eyes blockbuster opening with massive advance booking, shows in 3000 screens across India

Sreedhar Pillai

November 02, 2018 13:40:09 IST

Advance booking for Thalapathy Vijay’s Sarkar opens today in Tamil Nadu.

There has been an unprecedented hype around the film, ever since its trailer broke records and went viral. After last year’s blockbuster Mersal, Vijay is Tamil cinema’s biggest star today, with phenomenal reach across the globe. The Sarkar trailer had hints of being more political than Vijay's usual dance-and-fight commercial cocktail.

The core subject of the film is on electoral politics, and how casting of bogus votes changes an election as the “hero”, an NRI tycoon from USA, finds that his vote has been already cast.

Vijay in Sarkar promo. Image via Twitter

Vijay in Sarkar promo. Image via Twitter

Vijay, TN politics and Sarkar's plagiarism row

At the Sarkar audio launch, Vijay broadly hinted at his political ambitions.

He said that the politics shown in Sarkar will be real, as it is relevant to today’s Tamil Nadu politics. The film also sees the comeback of Kalanithi Maran-run Sun Pictures after Rajinikanth’s Enthiran (Robo) in 2010. This created unprecedented hype around the film and the trade buzz is that worldwide theatrical rights of the film was sold for somewhere around Rs 110 Crore, something only a Rajinikanth film has done earlier. In Tamil Nadu’s biggest territory Chengalpet (mostly comprising Chennai suburbs where maximum multiplexes are situated) the film was snapped up for a rumoured Rs 17.5 cr, highest ever paid for a film in that area.

Like all Vijay films, Sarkar too went on to hog the headlines for all the wrong reasons. There were plagiarism charges against director AR Murgadoss by an assistant director Varun Rajendran, who claimed the film was based on his story. This created quite the split within Kollywood. However, it was finally sorted out as Madras High Court cleared all decks for its release, and Murgadoss and Varun entered into an out of court settlement. Director AR Murgadoss agreed to add a 30-second card before the credits, stating that the basic theme of his script was similar to that of Varun Rajendran.

The advance booking for Sarkar opens today in Tamil Nadu, and everybody wants to see it first day first show.

Advance bookings for Sarkar are off the charts

The political entertainer is likely to open in 3000 screens all over India (including a Telugu dubbed version) and overseas on Tuesday November 6, when Diwali is celebrated in Tamil Nadu. Sun Pictures, the producers of the film, are keen that the film opens all over on the same day and same time around 4.30 AM (IST) on Tuesday.

Since the film is perceived to be against the ruling AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu (Vijay had many run-ups with the late chief minister Jayalalithaa and few years back his Thalaivaa had a two-week delayed release in Tamil Nadu, when her government banned it in the state) and is produced by Sun Pictures (close to opposition DMK), some Diwali fireworks are expected.

The bone of contention is the early morning shows — which starts as early as 4.30 am with cut-outs of the star being bathed in milk followed by bursting of crackers. Every big hero prides himself on an early morning show, the first “darshan” of his film to the fans. In Tamil Nadu, the cinema portfolio has always been handled by the chief minister’s office. Tamil Nadu is the only state in the world where cinema ticket prices and number of shows is determined by the state government.

Vijay in a still from Sarkar. YouTube

Vijay in a still from Sarkar. YouTube

As per Tamil Nadu Cinemas (Regulation) Act of 1955, a theatre can only screen 4 shows a day on working days and 5 shows during weekends (Saturday and Sunday) and public holidays. Madras High Court has a public litigation petition filed by an advocate G Devarajan. He told the court that many theatres screened six shows on the opening day of a film beginning from 5 AM, for example Seemaraja, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam , Saamy 2 etc. The High Court has asked the local collectors and home department to initiate suitable action towards these theatres.

The state government officials have made it clear that five shows will be allowed on Diwali day for Sarkar, but shows can start only after 8.30 AM and that too only at government prescribed ticket rates. This has dampened the spirit of distributors who were planning “first day first show” of Sarkar as early as 1 AM and cash in on the craze by selling tickets at higher rates. Some screens had even sold out these shows to fan clubs. In Kerala some theatres are planning Sarkar shows round the clock for the first two days.

Rumour has it, to compensate for early morning shows being scrapped, Sarkar may open with “paid premiere shows” from Monday evening. Though nothing is confirmed overseas distributors are also putting pressure to hold Sarkar premiers on Monday evening and night, to recoup the record prices they have paid for the film. Normally during festival season the Tamil Nadu government issues a Government Order (GO) allowing theatres to play five shows for a week. This time the GO has not been issued so far. However, the hottest topic of discussion in Tamil Nadu, even among politicians, is about the content of Sarkar and whether it will have an effect on local politics.

Updated Date: Nov 02, 2018 13:40 PM