South Asia

Bollywood's 'most expensive' film Ra.One to hit cinemas

India's superhero film Ra.One, billed as the most expensive Bollywood film to date, releases on Wednesday to coincide with the Hindu festival of Diwali.

The film, which premiered in London on Tuesday evening, will open in about 5,000 screens worldwide.

The movie stars Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role, which appears to be a cross between Spider-man and Iron Man.

Initial reviews praised the film's ambitious special effects, but said the plot was underwhelming.

Khan, who is also the producer, is engaged in an aggressive marketing blitz to promote the $30m (£21m) film.

Some trade analysts say the production, which will be screened in around 3,500 cinemas in India, has already recovered 70% of its costs.

Full-page newspaper advertisements, film merchandising, video and online games, and iPhone-iPad applications have been used to publicise it.

Ra.One poster
It remains to be seen if the film will live up to the hype

Speaking to the BBC at the film's London gala, Khan denied that its superhero content is an immediate attempt to take on Hollywood at its own game.

"If the technology goes ahead, we'd be able to compete with Hollywood later on in terms of quality. Unless we have the quality and the length, we won't be able to compete."

"We're trying to increasingly make Bollywood films that are seen in Hollywood, so we're going there," he added.

Early reviews have been mixed. The Times Of India called Ra.One a "classy sci-fi film" that "sets the viewers' adrenalin soaring".

But Indian entertainment website Rediff Movies branded the film "Shah Rukh Khan's most expensive midlife crisis", describing the story as "one long disjoined chain of events" with the "sole purpose of being able to show the (almost) 46-year-old actor performing some breathtaking stunts".

Hindi broadcaster Zee News, meanwhile, praised the "thrilling action sequences, mind blowing special effects [and] foot tapping numbers", while being critical of the "hollow script".

Regardless of critical opinion, the film is expected to be a lucrative box office hit.

Director Anubhav Sinha has in the past described it as a "sci-fi, comedy, romance, father-son relationship, superhero, good over evil fight to save the world".

The film also stars actors Kareen Kapoor and Arjun Rampal. The musical score has been composed by Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani.

The film, initially scheduled for release in June, has suffered delays due to the extensive special effects and 3D production work.

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