‘Devdas’ dances at B.O.

Analysts predicting pic a hit across India

NEW DELHI — “Devdas,” the most expensive Bollywood film ever made, smashed India’s weekend box office records.

Costing 500 million rupees ($10.2 million), the Shah Rukh Khan starrer opened worldwide on 1,000 prints Friday, drawing full houses at 300 cinemas in India, according to trade analysts.

In Mumbai — Bollywood’s headquarters and the industry yardstick — the take from 19 theaters was $122,449, doubling the previous best opening weekend, for last year’s “Kabhi khushi kabhie gham” (Sometimes Joy, Sometimes Sorrow).

While figures from outside Bombay were not immediately available, analysts said the lavish production of the classic tragic love story was a hit across the country. Producer Bharat Shah, who is confident pic will recoup its high budget, plans to bring out 200 more prints.

Exhibitors are cashing in on the popularity of the movie, which also stars former Miss World Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit, and have hiked ticket prices by 50% to 75%.

Local industryites attribute the pic’s success to media interest generated when it screened out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Now the question is whether “Devdas” will become a crossover hit in the rest of the world. Critical reviews were very mixed in the U.K., where it opened with 74 prints.

Though pic grossed a whammo $723,000 in its first three days – just shy of the U.K. Bollywood record set by “K3G” – it’s too soon to determine whether the film will play wider than traditional Indian auds.

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