Aamir Khan's new film brings year-end cheer to Bollywood

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The Independent Culture

Aamir Khan's new film has given Bollywood a boost after a disappointing year marked by a damaging strike, swine flu fears and a series of big budget flops.

The romantic comedy "3 Idiots", which was released worldwide last Friday, Christmas Day, took more than one billion rupees (20 million dollars) in its first four days, Reliance Big Pictures said in a statement Monday night.

Producer Vinod Chopra described the opening weekend as "overwhelming" while Reliance Big Pictures chairman Amit Khanna said it was "phenomenal".

Indian newspaper reports said that the film's initial box office takings even beat Khan's Christmas 2008 offering "Ghajini", which went on to become Bollywood's biggest grossing film of all time.

"3 Idiots" is based on the best-selling debut novel by Indian author Chetan Bhagat, "Five Point Someone", about three struggling students at a leading business school.

Khan is known for making one big film per year in an industry where leading actors and actresses can be working on several movies at the same time.

Industry analysts had expected "3 Idiots" to do well, suggesting that other studios could follow Khan's example and concentrate on the quality of scripts and production rather than quantity.

The last 12 months have been disappointing for Bollywood, with revenues hit by a two-month boycott of multiplex cinemas led by producers over box office takings, then swine flu, which closed some cinemas on public health grounds.

Both delayed the release of movies, causing a backlog then a glut of new films opening at the same time, denting takings from a public that is showing signs of disaffection with under-performing big budget films.