MUMBAI - Bollywood movie "Chennai Express", starring Shah Rukh Khan, has smashed box office records in just 21 days since it opened to become the most profitable movie in India, data showed Friday.
The film, which has a typical Bollywood mix of action, romance and comedy, has overtaken previous record-holder "3 Idiots" which appeared in 2009 to collect at least 2.11 billion rupees (S$40.6 million) domestically, according to trade weekly Box Office India.
The co-producers of "Chennai Express", Disney UTV, put the figure at a slightly higher 2.18 billion rupees.
In India, unlike Hollywood, there is no central data service for box office takings so there is often a discrepancy in the figures, but both estimates surpass the domestic collection of "3 Idiots", which made a net total of 2.02 billion rupees.
"'Chennai Express' has broken all records for domestic business and is still gong strong in its theatrical run. A good film, good timing and good luck have contributed to its success," Vajir Singh, editor of Box Office India, told AFP.
He said sales were buoyed by a number of public holidays in the first three weeks of release and a strong promotion effort by superstar Khan.
Also starring popular actress Deepika Padukone, the film tells the story of a 40-year-old man who gets embroiled in the dealings of a south Indian don when he rescues his runaway daughter from thugs aboard the Chennai Express train to southern India.
Directed by Rohit Shetty, the film was released in more than 3,500 cinemas in India - more than double the number in which "3 Idiots" opened in 2009.
"We have pushed the film across language barriers into regions like Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala where Hindi is not the primary language. This film has been appreciated by families and has a repeat audience," said Gaurav Verma, director of Indian distributions at Disney UTV.
The film may also break international Bollywood records. It is reportedly the mostly widely released Bollywood film of all time, and has already made US$16.8 million abroad in gross box office collections, according to the producers.
"3 Idiots", a coming-of-age comic-drama starring Aamir Khan, collected $23.90 million abroad, according to Box Office India, making it the Indian highest grosser abroad and overall.
In a recent interview with AFP, Shah Rukh Khan said he was not concerned with box office records.
"I cannot be going by that standard. I am the creative guy. I am an actor first and last, I don't think like that," he said.