Akshay Kumar travels all the way from ‘Chandni Chowk To China’ in his upcoming film slated for release Friday, which is being touted by trade pundits as Bollywood’s next big grosser. ‘Chandni Chowk…’ is the first big-budget project of 2009 that will follow the two big releases of last month and there are high expectations from the film, say experts.

”Chandni Chowk…’ will get a very good initial and will give 2009 a warm welcome as the first big-budget movie of the year. The advance bookings have been terrific and expectations are very high from the film. Also, the promotions of the movie have been very good,’ Joginder Mahajan, a Delhi-based distributor, told IANS. ‘The movie has an upper hand with no major releases until ‘Delhi-6’ hits the screens Feb 6. The audiences are eagerly awaiting ‘Chandni Chowk…’ after the back to back success of ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ and ‘Ghajini’,’ he added.

Tusshar Dhingra, COO of BIG Cinemas, echoed the thought and said, ‘Considering Akshay’s previous record has been very good, there are very high expectations for ‘Chandni Chowk…’. It is the first big-budget movie of the year and will have a large opening. ‘In fact, some of our staff will also be dressed up in Chinese getups and we’ll also be serving Chinese food alongside some chaats from Chandni Chowk at our food counters.’

A reliable source from PVR cinemas said: ‘It’s going to be a blockbuster. The audiences have been waiting for the movie. After ‘Ghajini’, this is the next high-stake film and it’s the best start for the new year.’ ‘We are house full for all the paid previews and almost packed till Sunday for all the shows,’ the source added.

Directed by Nikhil Advani, the film has been co-produced by Ramesh Sippy Entertainment, People Tree Films and Hollywood studio Warner Bros. The film also stars model turned actress Deepika Padukone in two different avatars alongside Akshay in the lead. In terms of prints, Advani said that the film is releasing with ‘close to 1,400 prints’ worldwide, while Warner Bros. as per company policy, refused to divulge any details regarding the budget of the film.

While, Aamir Khan starrer ‘Ghajini’ grossed more than Rs.900 million worldwide only in the first five days of its release, Yash Raj Films’ ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ raked in around Rs.300 million in the first two weeks.

Mahajan predicts that ‘Chandni Chowk To China’ will exceed the business of both the movies also breaking the collection record of Akshay’s last two releases ‘Welcome’ and ‘Singh Is King’. However, Anupama Chopra, film critic and consulting editor films, NDTV says it is too early to talk about the trade details of the film despite the content.

‘I am sure the film is going to be rollicking good and fiercely entertaining. However, the business of the film can’t be commented upon as of now, though expectations are very high from the film,’ said Chopra.

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