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Balakrishna's film ahead in box-office battle

By R. Ravikanth Reddy

HYDERABAD, JAN. 19. The verdict is out. In the annual Sankranti battle, which offers the passionate Telugu filmgoer a chance to see their favourite artistes grappling with their best bets, there was lots of cheer for senior heroes and loads of lessons for the younger stars trying to unseat them. All of Rs. 50 crores was at stake apart from the super heroes' pride. The NTR Junior starrer Andhrawala, perhaps the most hyped film ever in the industry, opened the season with the entire film fraternity watching with bated breath. Empty theatres and poor distributors reportedly running to the producer seeking return of some of their investment indicated its miserable show.

Then came the big releases on Sankranti day Anji, Lakshmi Narasimha and Varsham, with the latter being big in the sense that it was M.S. Raju's first film after the blockbuster, Okkadu.

Industry sources say that Balakrishna's Lakshmi Narasimha is ahead in the Sankranti sweepstakes at the Andhra box-office. The film is being appreciated for its script and presentation of Balakrishna with the heroic feats that are expected by his fans.

The fantastic opening all over the State and the positive reviews in the media makes it the first hit of this year. It looks quite ahead in the race in terms of crowds and response. Interestingly, the producer and the hero stayed away from the hype.

Chiranjeevi's Anji had a good opening in the Nizam area as expected but the confusion over its release seems to have affected its opening in other areas. When a film takes over five years, it is bound to look different in every reel and precisely that aspect has failed to evoke the expected response. Despite Chiranjeevi's best efforts and the much talked about graphics, it seems lagging behind Balakrishna's Lakshmi Narasimha. But on its own merit, it still attracts Chiranjeevi's followers and doesn't disappoint them.

Meanwhile, Varsham with Prabhas in the lead carried good pre-release reports but turned out to be an average film.

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