Bollywood's answer to "Pirates of the Caribbean," the swashbuckling, star-studded "Thugs of Hindostan" sails into cinemas Thursday, battling British colonizers on a quest for loot and box office records.
This year's big release for India's Diwali festival, the seafaring song-and-dance fest with superstars Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan cost US$42 million, making it the most expensive movie to date in the Hindi-language industry.
With his witty one-liners, maverick persona and tousled hair, Khan's character bears a strong resemblance to Johnny Depp's lovable pirate rogue Jack Sparrow, and the movie has a strong whiff of the "Pirates" series.
"But story-wise, there is no similarity between the two films," Khan, 53, insisted at a recent news conference in Mumbai.
His previous films including "Dangal", "Dhoom 3" and "Secret Superstar" have broken box office records and amassed millions across India and beyond, including in China.
Directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, "Thugs" also stars actresses Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh, and all the cast underwent rigorous stunt training to dodge bullets, and leap off burning ships in preparation for their battles with British soldiers.
Trade analysts believe it will break records and take in more than US$15 million over the long Diwali weekend, a highly auspicious time for India's majority Hindu population.
"The movie has hype, hysteria, scale and stars some of the biggest Indian superstars and has a holiday weekend to do humongous business," analyst Akshaye Rathi told AFP. "It will easily be one of Hindi film industry's highest grossers with Aamir and Amitabh's star power and will set new records," Rathi added.