Prabhas’ ‘Adipurush’ Scores Divine Debut at International Box Office



Adipurush,” director Om Raut’s retelling of Indian mythological epic “Ramayana,” emerged the fifth highest box office earner in the world in its opening weekend, despite some mixed reviews at home.

The film, which stars Prabhas (the Baahubali franchise), Kriti Sanon (“Bhediya”) and Saif Ali Khan (“Vikram Vedha”), opened on June 16 worldwide in Hindi, Telugu Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada-language versions. Raut’s storytelling, which uses modern techniques to retell the ancient epic, divided critics, but evidently had little dissuasive effect on audiences.

“Adipurush” scored a $2.5 million weekend in India and $30.6 million internationally, making it the fifth highest weekend grosser after “The Flash,” “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and “Elemental,” according to numbers released by Comscore. It was the second highest Indian worldwide opener of the year after Shah Rukh Khan’s “Pathaan” and the fifth highest Indian opener of all time after “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion,” “RRR,” “K.G.F: Chapter 2” and “Pathaan.”

The film, produced by prolific Indian studio T-Series and Retrophiles, is one of the most expensive Indian films ever made with a budget of some $61 million.

“Ramayana” has been adapted for film and television numerous times in India, including a series that ran for several years on state broadcaster Doordarshan. In the “Ramayana,” by Valmiki, Rama, the king of Ayodhya, travels to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita, who has been abducted by the king Ravana. In “Adipurush,” Prabhas’ character is not called Rama, he is Raghav, another name for Rama. Sita, played by Sanon, is called Janaki, while Saif Ali Khan’s Ravana is Lankesh, also derivatives of their “Ramayana” names. Adipurush literally means “first man,” but here the interpretation is that of “best man.”

Raut had told Variety that calling the lead character Rama makes him automatically divine in the eyes of the audience, whereas naming him Raghav makes him human and approachable. On the evidence of the “Adipurush” box office, the divinity remains intact, no matter what the character is called.

Raut also previously directed “Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior,” which was the biggest Indian hit of 2020.


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