December 18 is a big day for B-town which could be written down in the annals of Bollywood history. Two of the biggest films of the year — Bajirao Mastani andDilwale — will release on that day. Can you sense deja vu? Few years back Shah Rukh Khan’s, Om Shanti Om clashed with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya and now again they are going to battle it out in the screens. While one has the super hit jodi, Shah Rukh and Kajol and also the new hit machine Varun Dhawan, the other has Deepika Padukone, who is at an all time high. Also, Bajirao Mastaniis being talked about for its grandiose scale. However, there is no comparison between the two movies as their genres are completely different. Where Dilwale is an action comedy drama, Bajirao Mastani is a period romantic film. Yet, having a strong competitor at the box office cannot be good news for either of the parties involved, but that hasn’t led to either of the two blinking first. Is that a good thing?
Says Komal Nahta, trade analyst, “Both the films are looking good. But it’s a mistake to release on the same day, both will be affected and Bajirao Mastani will be affected more because the first choice of people would be Dilwale which has Shah Rukh and Kajol who have more fan following as compared to Deepika and Ranveer. But both have the potential of becoming hits. The initial choice of people would be Dilwale. It will be tough for both the parties when it comes to the number of theatres and screens. Yes, Shah Rukh may have the clout but Eros is also a big production house. It has already captured many single screens.”
Earlier, there have been reports that the Eros International have booked a big number of single screens from December 18 onward in Bombay Circuit, Delhi, Rajasthan and many other places in India, imposing a condition that they’ll not screen any other film except their Bajirao Mastani for at least a week. And to counter this, it is rumoured that people have been booking tickets for Dilwale one-and-half month before it hits the theatres in the Gulf for Shah Rukh, even without a trailer/teaser of the film. It’s said that the distributors of the film in UAE are so confident of the Shah Rukh-starrer that their talks with the exhibitors have resulted in theatres there having thrown their online booking open and apparently, the prospects are very bright for this SRK film co-starring Kajol, Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon.
Says a producer, who is known to give hits after hits on condition of anonymity,“Deepika and Ranveer are great actors but the combination with Sanjay Leela Bhansali may be a bit weak. Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela was a hit at the box office but it did not work up to the Chennai Express level. Then, Ram Leela is his only film that has worked in the recent past. Films like Guzaarish, Saawariya had bombed at the box office. Shah Rukh Khan, who is a huge star, has once again roped in Rohit Shetty who has given many back-to-back hits besides their last blockbuster Chennai Express, and then the biggest trump card is Varun Dhawan with five hits in a row. He has seen 100 per cent success. Varun is a huge plus but Ranveer, if he has gone one step forward, he has taken two steps back. However, talking about Dilwale, one is not very sure if Kajol now will bring any footfall to the film,” said the producer.
Says another filmmaker, “Bajirao looks grand and beautiful, but the combination of Rohit Shetty and Shah Rukh Khan will draw the crowds first. People will probably see Dilwale first and then Bajirao.” And the Dilwale actor himself feels that it isn’t good that both the films are coming together, “I can say Deepika is a lucky charm and it’s not good that both our films are coming together but I think in this period both can do well,” he told the media on his birthday on November 2.
Says Atul Mohan, Editor, Complete Cinema, “Either of them should think like wise businessmen keeping egos on the side for the betterment of the film industry. They should give each other a gap of two to three weeks. We have adequate number of screens but we have to think about the spending capacity of the audience, too, as the ticket prices are very high. Reports of both the films are good and people would want to watch both. However, many other trade analysts have a different take. “The release of these two biggies is timed during the Christmas and New Year holidays and we genuinely feel that two good films can easily co-exist in today’s times. It’s a great period with holidays aplenty,” they say in unison.
Meanwhile, the battle for theatres has begun. While some say that Shah Rukh’s production house Red Chillies will be booking a majority of the screens across the country as ‘they have more clout, the other say that both the producers are equally strong and know the business very well. “They have the clout. No one says ‘no’ to Shah Rukh Khan. Remember when Jab Tak Hai Jaan had clashed with Ajay Devgn’s Son Of Sardar, Ajay was left with little choice in terms of theatrical outlets,” says an unnamed trade expert. However, another trade analyst, adds, “We have enough number of screens to accommodate both the films. Agreed that the stakes are high but both the producers are strong and know the business more than anyone else.”
Says Girish Johar of Zee Studios, “It is a mix kind of situation, two films clash and the audience gets divided with two film option. The least desired, the film with poor content, poor reviews, declines. The one with more favoured response would obviously do well. The better marketed product has a hotter proposition for more screen space. The theatrical trailer of Dilwale is not out yet. Both the cards are not open as yet. Exhibitors clearly want a hot movie whether Bajirao or Dilwale and if any of these film is bad, showcasing for that film will change. But my gut feel is 55-45 towards Dilwale.”
So the battle between Bajirao Mastani and Dilwale seems to be heating up as the release day draws closer. The first look and teaser of Bajirao Mastani was out couple of months back and everybody’s excited about how spectacular it is slated to be. And then the prospect of seeing the Shah Rukh-Kajol pairing back on screen in hit machine Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale is also super exciting. It surely will be a treat for all fans. So which one would you opt for?