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Vishwaroopam, second highest grosser in Tamil cinema
It was baptism by fire. In the end it seems to have been worth it. Yes, we are talking about Kamal Hassan’s magnum opus Vishwaroopam.
DESPITE THE CONTROVERSIES surrounding it, despite the delayed release, despite the bad press, the movie, released in three languages - Hindi, Tamil and Telugu - has grossed Rs 180 crore at the box office so far. That makes it the second highest grosser in Tamil cinema history.

That gives it a net earning of Rs 125 crore. The producers, Chandrahasan and Kamal Hassan, need to pay up to Rs 100 crore to their financiers and vendors with whom they have tied up several profit-sharing arrangements. The total clean profit, the industry says, would be about Rs 25 crore take home for the duo which is not much considering the budgets on which the film was made. A lot of money is drained out from the producers in terms of payouts to TV Networks and publicists for hyping the film. 

Actually there is more to come. Vishwaroopam is a two-part story with the sequel expected anytime soon. Part one of the film had hit road blocks when a few Muslim groups blocked the release, even after censors had certified it for exhibition. After what appeared like a soap opera played out big time on national television, a rapprochement was reached and the film was released, two weeks behind schedule. It had been cleaned up and the objectionable references were removed. Luckily, it didn’t show up. 

The movie had created another controversy before its release when Kamal Hassan came into direct confrontation with distributors and exhibitors when he proposed to release the film on DTH format on TV ahead of the actual release in theatres worldwide. In a sense it was a masterstroke. The distributors took umbrage saying they would be hit financially if that happened as audience turnout in theatres would drop. They protested and refused to release the film in theatres if Kamal Hassan did not drop the DTH idea. The two parties finally agreed that the DTH release would be only weeks after the film’s release in theatres – satellite rights had already been sold out to service providers such as AirTel TV. 

Much of the film’s box office earnings have come after its release in Tamil Nadu. The film opened to a lukewarm response in Northern India netting in only about Rs 30 crore in the first three days. But in the overseas market where it netted Rs 25 crore it received an enthusiastic response with viewers going gaga over its technically brilliance. 

Vishwaroopam 2, which will involve negligible costs for a release in about four months in September, will mop up more money for the makers. It’s likely to be bereft of any further controversy.

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