After a two-year wait, Mohanlal-starrer Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham released in theatres worldwide on Thursday. Producer Antony Perumbarvoor had announced on social media that Marakkar would release in five languages – Malayalam Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Kannada – on 4100 screens across the world. As many as 16,000 shows are scheduled per day. In Kerala, Marakkar is showing in 626 out of 631 screens.
The producer also noted that Marakkar will be the first Indian movie to enter the 100 crore club worldwide through reservations alone.
Silverscreen India reached out to theatre owners in Kerala to find out how the film fared on the first day.
Renjith Paul, owner of EVM theatre groups, with 10 screens across the state, and joint secretary of Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK), said, “The first show in Kerala began at 12.00 am and it was for the fans. The following shows were also houseful. Kurup was a crowd puller and the trend is continuing for Marakkar as well. This time, we could see kids, youngsters and middle-age people visiting the theatres. There were not a lot of senior citizens, but the family audience is back.”
“This reception for Marakkar is a positive sign for the Malayalam industry as it gives confidence to the makers of other big-budget films,” he added.
Renjith also noted that since it’s a lengthy film (the runtime is 3 hours and 1 minute), they have made preparations to ensure cleaning and sanitizing is done as efficiently as possible to get the screens quickly ready for the next show. It takes around three and a half hours for each show, including the interval and cleaning time, he added.
K Vijayakumar, President of FEUOK and owner of Varsha Movies, told us that Marakkar is predominantly attracting family audiences. He added that reviews from the public have been mixed so far.
While the FEUOK had previously expected that the state government would increase the maximum allowed seating capacity, the organisation’s vice president Sony Thomas, who also owns Ganam Movies in Kattanam, confirmed that theatres are still operating only at 50% capacity.
In the four screens at his theatre, Sony said Marakkar has been allotted 12 shows for the first day and will get seven shows from the second day onwards. “Tickets for Marakkar have been pre-booked till Monday. I am also playing other films like Kurup, Janeman and Kaaval. We have also allocated screens for Kunchacko Boban’s Bheemante Vazhi that will release tomorrow (Friday). We have scheduled shows according to the various movies’ runtimes.”
Vijayakumar, meanwhile, said the Kunchacko Boban-starrer will get a minimum of 100 to 150 screens in Kerala. “Also, Suresh Gopi’s Kaaval, which has entered its second week in theatres, is playing on around 25 to 30 screens. Janeman, which is continuing to get positive responses, has been allotted around 150 screens,” he added, noting that Kurup will most likely be pulled from theatres by next week.
Marakkar, directed by Priyadarshan, is an Indian period war film set in 16th century Kozhikode. The film is based on Kunjali Marakkar IV, the last of the Malayali naval leaders deployed by the Samoothiri of Calicut to fight against the Portuguese.
Aside from Mohanlal, the film also features Suniel Shetty, Arjun Sarja, Keerthy Suresh, Manju Warrier, Pranav Mohanlal, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Siddique, Ashok Selvan, Fazil, Siddique, Nedumudi Venu and Innocent. Marakkar won the awards for best feature film, best special effects and best costume design at the 67th National Film Awards.
Ahead of the film’s release, Mohanlal had clarified at a press conference on Tuesday that the makers had always wanted to see the film on the big screen. “Many said that we had signed a deal with Amazon Prime Video [for direct-OTT release]. If that were the case, how would they give back such a big film? We wished to see this big film in the theatres and that’s why we waited for two years.”
The actor revealed that Marakkar will later stream on OTT later. “We signed this deal only after committing to a theatrical release,” he added.
Speaking at the press conference, director Priyadarshan said that Marakkar is not a fully historic film as he has taken cinematic liberty to connect some dots. “It is a pure entertainer for the general public to enjoy. However, it is made in a way that won’t affect or hurt anyone.”
About how Marakkar is different from Bahubali, Priyadarshan said that though the canvases of both films are similar, Bahubali is fantasy film, while Marakkar has a bit of history. “The Indian Navy has acknowledged Kunjali Marakkar. He was considered to be the Indian Navy’s first commander. So since there is a part of history, we have treated this film in a realistic way.”