It was a dream start to the decade as some of the highly anticipated releases such as superstar Rajinikanth’s Darbar, Mahesh Babu’s Sarileru Neekevvaru, Allu Arjun’s Ala Vaikuntapuramloo and Ajay Devgn’s Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior struck gold at the box-office. Despite mixed response from critics, these films went on to rake in the moolah, thanks to the love showered upon them by
the masses.

AR Murugadoss directed Darbar, which marked the return of Rajinikanth in the role of a cop after 25years, was the first major release of 2020. At 70, Rajinikanth can still give actors half his age a run for their money and there can’t be a better example than Darbar. Produced by Lyca Productions on a whopping budget, Darbar comfortably grossed over `200crore in just 10 days since its release in cinemas. A large chunk of its earnings came from Tamil Nadu where it grossed around `80crore and continues to run to packed houses. The Rajinikanth phenomenon also helped the film to do well outside Tamil Nadu in neighbouring states such as Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. According to trade sources, the film collected around `8crore in Kerala and `19crore in Karnataka. From Telugu states where Rajinikanth has a strong fan base, Darbar collected a staggering `20crore. In overseas market including USA, Malaysia, Singapore and the Gulf among other places, Darbar collected around $9million.

Sarileru Neekevvaru
The second big release of the year was Mahesh Babu’s Sarileru Neekevvaru, which marked his maiden collaboration with director Anil Ravipudi. The film featured Mahesh in the role of a soldier in the Indian army. One of the highlights of the movie was the return of yesteryear star Vijayashanti after 13years. Popularly called lady superstar during her prime, Vijayashanti played a key role in the movie and her return drew family audiences to cinemas. According to a leading distributor, the inclusion of Vijayashanti in the cast was a major boost to the film.

“Vijayashanti was once a big star with a huge fan base than some of her male contemporaries. When it was announced that she will be making a comeback after 13years in a Mahesh Babu movie, it piqued the interest of the audiences. All those who haven’t seen her on screen in a long time had a reason now to watch Sarileru Neekevvaru, and it’s a move that worked wonders for the team,”
he said.

Upon its release, Sarileru Neekevvaru set the cash registers on fire. The film went on to collect a `200crore worldwide in its first week in cinemas and emerged as the fifth best Telugu opener of all time. According to the makers, the film did phenomenal business in Telugu states where it set records in some areas. In Nizam, the film earned a share of `33crore. In Ceded and Uttara Andhra, the film collected a share of `14.65crore and `17.07crore respectively. In Guntur, `9.03crore was earned while East and West areas minted `17crore. Around `12crore was earned from Krishna region and Nellore too. In the rest of India, Sarileru Neekevvaru collected a share of `10.26crore. In North America, it earned a share of `8.8crore while in the Gulf region, it fetched `1.5crore.

Ala Vaikuntapuramloo
The Mahesh Babu starrer had stiff competition from Allu Arjun’s Ala Vaikuntapuramloo, which released a day later and still managed to stir a storm at the ticket window. Trivikram directed Ala Vaikuntapuramloo marks the filmmaker’s third collaboration with Arjun, and the duo managed to deliver a hat-trick of blockbusters. In ten days since its release, Ala Vaikuntapuramloo grossed a staggering `220crore worldwide with a share of `143crore and emerged as the fourth best opener of Telugu industry. As per the makers, the film collected `35.69crore in Nizam, `18.07crore in Ceded, `18.80crore in Vizag, `9.93crore in Guntur, `17crore from East and West regions and another `13crore from Krishna and Nellore regions.

From Telugu states alone, Ala Vaikuntapuramloo collected a share of `112.90crore in ten days. Over the years, Allu Arjun developed strong fan base in Karnataka and Kerala where his films have done very good business. In Karnataka, his latest release collected a share of `10.70crore whereas Kerala and Tamil Nadu earned a share of `3crore. In the US, the film created a non-Baahubali film record to become the first Allu Arjun starrer to collect $3 million. According to Rentrak, it’s the solo Telugu film to feature in the top ten films of the weekend (Jan 17-Jan 20) in the US.

Dhanush’s Pattas was the other major release of the month. Starring Dhanush in dual roles and directed by Durai Senthil Kumar, the film went on to collect `25crore in its first week of run in Tamil Nadu, according to its makers. Pattas, which also stars Sneha and Mehreen Pirzada, may have opened to mixed reviews but capitalized on the festival holidays. The film, according to trade sources, will end up as a hit by the end of its theatrical run.

This month saw two big releases in Bollywood. Meghna Gulzar directed Chhapaak starring Deepika Padukone as an acid attack survivor and Ajay Devgn’s period epic Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior. Both the films opened to terrific hype but eventually Tanhaji comfortably won the box-office battle by a long margin. In two weeks since its release, Tanhaji has grossed around `180crore and will end up as Ajay’s second `200crore grosser after Golmaal Again. Chhapaak, on other hand, just managed to break even with `35crore earnings in two weeks. It’s worth mentioning that Akshay Kumar’s Good Newwz, which released in the last week of December last year, had quite a run throughout the first and second week of this year. The film has been adjudged a blockbuster with over `200crore in earnings.

Other notable releases of the month in other languages include Mohanlal’s Big Brother which opened to mixed reviews and failed to work at the box-office. Kunchacko Boban’s crime thriller Anjaam Pathira was received very well by critics and audiences alike. In Telugu, Kalyan Ram’s Entha Manchivaadavuraa is another release that didn’t quite make an impact at the box-office despite good hype.