Shah Rukh Khan's "Pathaan" premieres to large audiences in the early morning, with long lines, whistles, and shouts
People began to line up early in the morning, some with weary eyes from lack of sleep and others bright-eyed and bubbling with joy for the beginning of a new day. A new Shah Rukh Khan movie that defied boycott demands for a record opening attracted these crowds.
Industry insiders are hopeful that "Pathaan," which opened on Wednesday in 5,000 theaters throughout India and to 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. performances in key locations, including Delhi-NCR and Mumbai, will mark more than simply SRK the hero's comeback after a four-year absence.
Whistles, hooting, and loud clapping were heard as the picture unspooled at the 6.55 a.m. showing at PVR Select Citywalk, giving the impression that it was back in the good old days.
The celebrity, who has had a streak of dud movies including "Zero," "Fan," and "Jab Harry Met Sejal," is back, judging by the noise level at the almost packed IMAX theater.
Even on a chilly January morning, a young lady cited "Simply Shah Rukh" as the reason she missed a few hours of sleep to attend the premiere of the superstar's latest film.
She was among the large crowd gathering to see the espionage thriller at the posh South Delhi mall. They waited attentively while the desk employee scanned their tickets.
Once inside, the audience waited for the commencement of the Siddharth Anand-directed movie, "War," to begin. Many people were irritated by the barrage of commercials that were shown before the main attraction.
Oddly, when the "Pathaan" CBFC certificate was revealed, there was the first loud applause. For the next two hours and 26 minutes, there was more joyous behavior.
John Abraham plays the primary antagonist Jim in the Yash Raj Films movie, which has also drawn criticism for the song "Besharam Rang." Deepika Padukone plays Rubina in the film.
The reaction to John's initial glance was a shout. It became even louder when Shah Rukh showed there, replete with flowing hair, new battle scars, beard, and a rough appearance. Quite different from the dimpled, clean-shaven Rahul of so many other love stories.
Whistles were heard during his first line of conversation, "zinda hai."
Following was an action sequence that had viewers gripping their seats and bursting in loud shouts as he spoke what looked to be a joke that had been made famous throughout the movie's trailer, internet advertising films, and public appearances. Asam bigadne wala hai, apni kursi ke peti baandh lo (fasten your seatbelts, the weather is going to be turbulent.)
The plot then follows Shah Rukh's fictional spy as he embarks on a global quest to foil a devastating terrorist strike planned by Outfit X, a gang lead by Jim played by John C. Reilly.
The much-discussed song "Besharam Rang," which was the subject of a major uproar earlier this month over the actor's attire in the tune, is performed by Deepika.
Up until the intermission, when many people hurried outside to hurriedly retrieve their popcorn and refreshments, the movie maintained its pace.
Hooting and loud applause were heard as Salman Khan, Shah Rukh's contemporary and close friend, too made a big entrance as fellow spy Tiger.
The next intense action scene lasted for around six to eight minutes and included the two A-list actors beating the crap out of the villains while riding a train.
When Shah Rukh said, "Party "Pathaan" ke ghar rakhoge, to mehmaan nawazi ke liye Pathaan to aayega and patakhe bhi layega (If you have a party at Pathaan's house, he'll surely come to greet you as a host and will also bring fireworks)," the roaring and cheering intensified toward the end of the movie Was it all worthwhile to wake up early on a workday, get a ticket months in advance, and perhaps even take time out of work?
Several audience members said emphatically "yes," which should give the industry cause for optimism that a comeback may well be on the horizon.
"I've never seen a movie at seven in the morning, but this time I made sure I did. I don't want to miss Shah Rukh sir's return after four years, Wasim exulted to PTI.
"Everything was for Shah Rukh. I couldn't wait to see his movie on a huge screen, and he did not dissapoint. I'm extremely delighted with the movie overall, although there were a lot of times when John stole the show from SRK," observed Aparajita, a young lady.
The film is anticipated to score well at the box office, which will be encouraging for Bollywood, which struggled in 2022 with a succession of duds.
Trade experts estimate that "Pathaan" would earn over Rs 45 crore at the box office on the opening day after selling 4.19 lakh advance tickets till Tuesday.