Uunchai (2022), Sooraj Barjatya’s first release since Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015), is charting a promising route for itself. According to Bollywood Hungama, the film opened to approximately Rs. 1.81 crores on its first day but almost doubled its earnings on the second day, raking in Rs. 3.65 crores. By Sunday, it had reached approximately Rs. 10.5 crores. Despite the seemingly low numbers, this puts Uunchai ahead of many Hindi film releases this year – last week’s releases Phone Bhoot and Mili each had disappointing lifetime collections of approximately Rs. 12.7 crores and Rs. 2.2 crores respectively.
Uunchai’s earnings seem even more laudable due to the film’s restricted release, with only 500 theatres running the film across the country. This, along with the fact that the film saw an increase despite competing with Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), points to a healthy run in the theatres. Film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi described the film’s release strategy as unique and said it is “one of those movies that was designed to expand its impact through word-of-mouth”. “Today you’ll see an addition of screens all over the country and the coming Friday might see even more screens being added,” Rathi said. The coming weeks feature highly-anticipated releases, including Drishyam 2 this week and Bhediya next week, but Rathi believes Uunchai might sustain itself until well into December.
When asked about the film's limited release, Barjatya talked about how it's an old family recipe at Rajshri Productions. "We have tried and tested it back in 1994 when VHS tapes were becoming a roadblock for theatres. This very strategy made Hum Aapke Hain Koun what it is today. Uunchai was in times where OTT and short theater runs were becoming a roadblock for long theater showcasing, so we went back to the policy of limited release. And we are very happy with the results from our first weekend," said the director.
Uunchai aims to grapple with issues of grief, death and change – themes that aren’t completely new to the Barjatya universe but aren’t often seen in the relatively honest form they’re given in the film. The ensemble cast includes Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani, Anupam Kher, Neena Gupta, Sarika, Danny Denzongpa and Parineeti Chopra. Bachchan’s last release – Vikas Bahl’s Goodbye – also dealt with similar issues but struggled to reach a crore on its first day.
Rathi believes that the film’s sentimental appeal – a cornerstone in Barjatya’s films – has much to do with its popularity. “If you look at what people are posting on social media, it’s a lot of emotional outpouring for the film. Another thing we’re seeing in cinemas all over the country is that people are showing up at the cinemas with their entire families or an extended group of friends. A wholesale purchase is underway at the box office right now,” he said.