'Raajneeti' opens with $13.7 mil

Political drama competes with 'Kites' for early summer gross

NEW DELHI -- UTV Motion Pictures' latest release, political drama “Raajneeti,” collected 620 million rupees ($13.7 million) from 2,200 screens worldwide during its June 4 opening weekend.
 
Directed by Prakash Jha, the critically-acclaimed ensemble drama revolves around the power struggles within a political family, portrayed by veterans such as Nasseeruddin Shah and rising stars such as actor Ranbir Kapoor and actress Katrina Kaif.
 
Weeks before its release, the film was in the spotlight for its portrayal of a leading female character (Kaif) apparently inspired by Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born leader of India's ruling Congress party.
 
This year's earlier major release was Reliance Big Pictures' “Kites,” which collected over 650 million rupees following its May 21 release. But “Kites” -- budgeted at about $20 million -- was released on 2,500 screens, compared to the 2,200 screen count for “Raajneeti,” with an estimated budget of $9 million.
 
The opening weekend India take for “Raajneeti” yielded 510 million rupees from 1,900 screens. In the U.K., the film grossed $315,048, while the U.S. take was $916,446.
 
The next major summer release is Reliance's “Raavan” by acclaimed director Mani Ratnam, which bows June 18, starring leading actor Abhishek Bachchan and his wife Aishwarya Rai, who also promoted the film at Cannes.
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