Hindi blockbuster, MangalPandey - The Rising has broken boxoffice records for a Hindi film in India, taking $5m in its first week onrelease the highest ever on record.

The film opened on Aug 12 on600 screens in India and grossed $3m in its first three days; so far in itssecond week it has grossed $2.5m, bringing its total to $7.5m. It is expectedto gross $12m in its theatrical release.

Directed by Ketan Mehta andstarring Indian superstar Amir Khan, the film was simultaneously released on400 screens overseas in the Indian diaspora. In the UK, it grossed over $0.22min its first weekend, with a per screen average of £3,017. In the US, at 63theatres, it grossed $0.53m and to date has taken $0.787m with a screen averageof $8,429.

The film tells the story ofthe first Indian rebellion against the colonial British in 1857 when an Indiansepoy named Mangal Pandey sparked a revolution after refusing to use animalfat-laced cartridges. It is one of the most expensive Hindi films ever and wasfilmed in both Hindi and English.

Producer, Bobby Bedi toldScreen that he has already applied for a tax-free status for the film withinIndia., "I have asked the government to give the film an all-Indiatax-free status considering its strong content-value and it should be comingthrough very soon."

The tax free status wouldensure removal of the Entertainment Tax which varies from state to state butforms almost half the cost of the average ticket price in India.

For the production of thefilm Bobby Bedi's production company, Kaleidoscope raised $2m for a bank loan,with co-producers Maya Movies Production (owned by director Ketan Mehta's wifeDeepa Sahi) and Inox Leisure financed the rest.

The film was distributed inIndia and UK by Yash Raj Films for a minimum guarantee of $3.5m making it thebiggest Hindi distribution deal ever.

It was pre sold in US andother expat Indian markets for another $3.5m. Music rights and televisionrights were acquired by Sony Entertainment Television for $2m. DVD rights areexpected to fetch $0.5m.

The English version of thefilm called simply The Rising isto be released worldwide later this year, although the film already had its world premiere as the opening night film of the Locarno Film Festival this month. London-based Capitol Films ishandling international sales.

In the meantime, the BritishHigh Commission in India welcomed the launch of the film and wished it "all thebest". British High Commission spokesman Jeff Wilson said: "We are pleased thatthe film has been finally released because we were involved in the launch ofthe shooting of the film with the Prince of Wales in 2003 and several membersof the High Commission were asked to play the part of extras in the film".

Meanwhile Uday Pratap Singh,a member of Indian Parliament, took objection to the manner in which thelegendary revolutionary sepoy had been portrayed in the film and demanded thatthe film be banned. He was particularly critical of the manner in which Pandeywas shown having a fling with a nautch-girl as depicted in the movie.

After the box office successof Mangal Pandey, director KetanMehta has announced the second part of his Indian rebellion trilogy which wouldstar Aishwariya Rai as the valiant Queen of Jhansi, Rani Laxmi Bai. The movieis likely to begin shooting in early 2006. This will be followed by the lastpart of the Trilogy based on the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar to beplayed by superstar Amitabh Bachchan.