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Muted early response to 'Liger' casts an unsettling shadow on film

The long wait finally ended on Thursday as ‘Liger’ hit the screens after an intensive country-wide promotion tour and publicity blitzkrieg. There is a lot riding on this pan-India movie for lead actor Vijay Devarakonda, and co-producer Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. The last few days have seen the movie in the crosshairs of the Boycott Bollywood brigade.

For lead actor Vijay Devarakonda, ‘Liger’ is his launch vehicle to Bollywood and pan-India audiences. Coming on the heels of southern stars like Prabhas, Allu Arjun, Ram Charan, NTR, and Yash, who made their presence felt in Bollywood, ‘Liger’ success means a lot for the self-made Tollywood star that Vijay is.

The initial signs have been encouraging enough with the movie making a strong entry in the US circuit, bringing cheer to fans and the movie team. ‘Liger’ Telugu version released in 274 locations in America and premiere shows are already on in some theatres in this important overseas market.

The movie overseas distributors Sarigama Cinemas announced Thursday morning that ‘Liger’ already grossed more than 4.4 lakh US Dollars on the back of early morning and premiere shows in the US.

“#Liger USAPremiers $441,263 from 274 Locs at 6:50 PM PST” Sarigama Cinemas tweeted early Thursday morning.

In India, the movie is being screened in 3000 screens, and according to trade sources, there was reasonable advance booking for the release day. But this is to be expected considering the hype around the movie and Vijay’s fan following in the Telugu states.

While critics have been appreciative of Vijay’s efforts to excel in his role as a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter , they are not finding much that is off the beaten track so far as the story and screenplay are concerned.

A senior film journalist in Hyderabad told IANS that the story line fails to impress as there’s nothing new in it. “The lead role being that of a stammerer has not gone down well with audiences,” he said.

Going by activity on social media, ‘Liger’ appears to be fumbling at the box office in Telugu. The same is likely to reflect in the pan-India market.

Another alarm signal that is ringing loud, has been the silence of the movie’s team after the early shows of the day. Compared to his confident stance in the run up to the movie release, Vijay Devarakonda seemed subdued on Thursday. With no celebratory scenes or success talk on social media, the question on people’s mind is: has ‘Liger’ lost the plot?

While a clear picture will emerge over the weekend, after working three years on the movie, Vijay Devarakonda and ‘Liger’ team will keep their fingers crossed till then.

‘Liger’ starring Vijay Devarakonda, Ananya Pandey, and Ramya Krishna among others released on August 25.

–By Narendra Puppala

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