x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

'My Name is Khan' smashes record

The film breaks the record for the biggest opening for a Bollywood movie in the UAE with 135,858 tickets sold in its first four days.

Filmgoers wait to buy tickets at Abu Dhabi's National Cinema.
Filmgoers wait to buy tickets at Abu Dhabi's National Cinema.

ABU DHABI // My Name Is Khan has broken the record for the biggest opening for a Bollywood movie in the UAE, with some 135,858 tickets sold in the first four days of its release. The film made its worldwide premiere at the Emirates Palace hotel last Wednesday and began its commercial run across the country the following day. The film's distributor, Empire International, said Friday was its busiest day, with 55,000 tickets sold.

"Everywhere the numbers were really high from Thursday to Sunday across all cinemas in the UAE," said Kifah Ghraizi, the head of the company's Gulf sales. "This was the first ever Bollywood that we released to 35 screens in the country." The 165-minute movie marks the return of the Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and the actress Kajol, 34, on screen, reuniting after almost a decade apart. "It's a surprise," added Mr Ghraizi. "We didn't expect this much of a crowd to watch the movie and the admissions are still high, the figures are still excellent."

Ticket sales also probably benefited from the Valentine's Day weekend. In the US, the movie took in US$2.3 million (Dh8.4m) from 120 cinemas in four days, according to Reuters. Jemal Najmi, 27, from Dubai, of Turkish and Pakistani descent, said it took him a week to get a ticket at the Mercato Cinema. "It was the first time I have watched a Bollywood movie in years and I was surprised at how good they have become; they are just like Hollywood now," he said.

"It was so touching. The acting and the way the director managed to address different cultures, religions and backgrounds was really good." The film, which was directed by Karan Johar and co-produced by Shah Rukh Khan's wife Gauri, depicts an Indian expatriate in America who suffers from Asperger's syndrome and faces Islamaphobia after 9/11. Vijay Lakhani, an Indian who works in the textiles industry, watched the film on Friday at the Grand Cinema.

"It was packed," he said. "I went with my wife. I'm glad I watched this movie because there was so much hype and we had great expectations. The acting and the songs were OK but I would not go to watch it again." Ray Gerard, 29, a ticket seller at the Grand Mercato Cinema in Dubai, said: "Usually the cinema is full Thursdays and Fridays for Indian movies but this week, because of My Name is Khan, it was full on Saturday, which is unusual. Even now, it's almost full."

Lucy Della Cruz, an employee at the Grand Sahara Cinemas, Sharjah, said the film was the busiest this week. "On the first day it was shown, the cinemas were full. Our customers are of different nationalities so I don't think it was only Indians who watched it." asafdar@thenational.ae * With additional reporting by Lynne al Nahhas