Chennai: With Rajinikanth fans spread across nooks and corners of India, the "Kabali" fever has taken the nation by storm. Fans are waiting with bated breath to catch a glimpse of the superstar in the movie, a gangster drama releasing on Friday in nearly 5000 screens worldwide.
The Pa. Ranjith directorial, which also stars Radhika Apte, will be opening first in Malaysia and Singapore.
"In the last decade, never have I witnessed such craze over a release. 'Kabali' has sent even non-Thalaivar fans into frenzy because it is said to be the first Rajinikanth-starrer sans any cliches usually associated with his films," trade analyst Trinath told IANS.
Apart from Tamil, "Kabali" will also release in Telugu and Hindi. It has also been dubbed in Malay, and it's slated to release on July 29.
The Hindi dubbed version alone is slated to release in 1000 screens across the north Indian belt.
"Kabali" has reportedly raked in over Rs 200 crore from its pre-release business.
"According to the makers, it has already done business worth over Rs 200 crore. The brand collaborations are valued at Rs 50 crore, which makes it the highest for a south Indian film. Never before have so many brands partnered with a Tamil project," Trinath said.
From Air Asia's special "Kabali" airline to lucky superstar silver coins from Muthoot Fincorp and exclusive partnership with Airtel -- brands have unabashedly cashed in on the Rajinikanth phenomenon.
PVR is the official multiplex partner of "Kabali".
"Since Rajinikanth has fans across the country and as PVR is known for going an extra mile for its patrons, we've associated with the makers to introduce exclusive 'Kabali' merchandise," Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas, told IANS.
With unprecedented excitement around the film's release, there are companies that are said to have declared a holiday on Friday and have given free tickets to their employees to watch the film.
"On account of the release of superstar Rajini's 'Kabali', we have decided to declare holiday on Friday in efforts to avoid piled up leave requests to the HR department. We also take the privilege of going the extra mile to support anti-piracy by providing free tickets to the former Fyndus employees," read a notice from Vinoth Sundaroli, Vice President - India Operations, Fyndus India.
To watch the first day, first show of "Kabali" fans are travelling from abroad too.
Writer and film critic Naman Ramachandran is coming all the way from London to watch the film on Friday.
"For the premiere, I'm flying down to Mumbai from London and taking part in the early morning pooja and then the procession to the Aurora theatre in Matunga where a bunch of similar die-hards will do the 'pal (milk) abhishekam followed by the first day first show," Naman said.
"My 'Kabali' T-shirts have already arrived and I'll be wearing one of them on the release day," he said.
The craze for the film even outside Tamil Nadu is unbelievable.
Mumbai's Aurora theatre has planned to screen six shows on release day.
The 74-year old, 700-seater Aurora Theatre in King's Circle, will start shows right from 3 a.m. and continue at 6 a.m., 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and finally the last show at 9 p.m.
Meanwhile, Chennai-based SPI Cinemas has scheduled nearly 100 shows for "Kabali" across its properties in the opening weekend.
While hardcore Rajinikanth fans feel "Kabali" can overpower Salman Khan's "Sultan" at the ticket window, a trade pundit is confident it will emerge as a very successful venture.
"It's tough to say whether 'Kabali' can match the numbers of 'Sultan'. However, the film might easily end up as the highest grossing south Indian film. With such excellent pre-release buzz and business worth Rs 200 crore, it might set new records," distributor and industry tracker Arvind Nambiar told IANS.