The trade is still hoping that one of the two films – Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani – would be postponed so that the big clash on 18th December is averted.
I have seen around 50 minutes of Shah Rukh Khan and Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale. I have also seen the trailer and the song of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Eros International’s Bajirao Mastani. Both the films hold promise of clicking at the box-office in a very big way. There is every reason to believe that Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol’s romance in Dilwale will appeal to the audience this time also as it has done so often in the past. Varun Dhawan brings in the youth factor in Rohit Shetty’s film and one doesn’t need to emphasise how popular he is among the youth today. Shah Rukh and Rohit have delivered a blockbuster in Chennai Express and so, what prevents one from assuming that Dilwale will surpass the business of Chennai Express?
Likewise, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, known for his sensitively-handled love stories and his ostentatious sets, seems to have surpassed himself in Bajirao Mastani if the trailer and visuals of the first song are any indication. He gave Ranveer Singh his first 100-crore film in Ram-Leela. There’s again every reason to assume that the filmmaker will outdo himself with Bajirao Mastani, starring the very Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone with Priyanka Chopra in a full-fledged role this time as against a special appearance in a song-dance in Ram-Leela.
If that’s how things stand today, why are all – Shah Rukh Khan, Rohit Shetty, Kishore Lulla and Sanjay Leela Bhansali – bent on not realising the full potential of their own film? Nobody will dispute the fact that a simultaneous release will adversely affect collections of both the films. If Shah Rukh can’t claim that the opposition of Bajirao Mastani will not make a dent in the business of his films, Sanjay Bhansali, too, cannot overlook the danger of releasing his film in direct opposition of Dilwale. One may argue that Gadar Ek Prem Katha and Lagaan had both hit the screens on the same day in 2001 (June 15) and had both proved hits, so what’s the problem in releasing Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani on 18th December? But times are different today because multiplexes (which didn’t exist in 2001) bring in the maximum moolah at the box-office nowadays. Also, business today happens in two or three weeks flat and, therefore, a big film needs to open in the maximum number of shows in multiplexes to realise its true potential.
Eros International and Bhansali may argue that they had announced 18th December as the release date of Bajirao Mastani before Shah Rukh declared that he’d bring his Dilwale on that date. Eros and Bhansali may, therefore, feel that nobody can ask them to shift their release; if anybody should be moving, it is the makers of Dilwale. On his part, Shah Rukh may rewind back to the time when his Om Shanti Om had clashed with Bhansali’s Saawariya and the box-office results were there for all to see. The superstar may, therefore, argue that he has no reason to budge from the release date of December 18, never mind if he announced it after Bajirao Mastani.
Both the arguments make sense. But does that mean that both the films should stick to the release date and eat into each other’s collections by hitting the screens on the same day? Not at all!
We are talking about releasing two potential hits, not a case in the court of law. Logic comes in handy in arguing cases in courts, business sense is what should be of paramount importance in matters of finance. And whether Shah Rukh, Bhansali, Lulla or Rohit Shetty like it or not, they have to put logic aside and think of their own interest first.
The situation being what it is, who then should move from the date which, thanks to the two big films scheduled for release, seems to have become so important that one would assume, December 18 is the day when Diwali, Eid and ten more festivals fall together!?!
Before offering a solution, let it be said loudly and clearly that the question of finding a solution has arisen only and only because both, Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani, look like huge potential hits. If one of the two films was not promising enough, there would be no question of seeking a solution because there wouldn’t be any perceived problem. The trade would be putting its bets on the film which would seem to be the dark horse and would actually be pitying the expected fate of the weaker film. But that’s not the case. Everyone in the trade feels that both the films are dark horses, that both need clear fields to realise their fullest potential.
Unless something goes drastically wrong, Dilwale will be the first choice of more people, and even Lulla or Bhansali cannot deny this fact. Deepika, Ranveer and Priyanka make for a formidable trio and if they are cast in a Bhansali film, they’d, of course, be ten times more appealing but can they be more exciting than Shah Rukh, Kajol, Varun Dhawan and Rohit Shetty? Doubtful.
That being so, why would Kishore Lulla and Sanjay Leela Bhansali want to harm their own film by clashing with a film which seems – to the paying public – bigger than their own film. Please note, one is talking only of public perception here because before the films are released, the public has only its perception (based on what it has seen by way of trailers and heard by way of the film’s music) to fall back upon and decide which film it will watch first. More will opt for Dilwale than Bajirao Mastani. In the ultimate analysis, any of the two films could prove to be bigger and better than the other. But initially, perception-wise, nobody can deny that Dilwale will be the first choice for more people than Bajirao Mastani. This logic should be enough – no, not to scare Lulla and Bhansali (because the reports of the trailer and songs of Bajirao Mastani are indeed exceptional) but to make them take a rational decision to change their release date. There’s nothing to feel defeated or small or shameful about if they do shift the release date. Nobody, not even Shah Rukh or Shetty would view this, if the postponement of Bajirao Mastani happens – as it should – as a move on the part of the producers taken under fear or pressure. This would rather be an intelligent business decision which Lulla and Bhansali would live to cherish all their lives. Forget Dilwale or Shah Rukh or Rohit Shetty, the makers of Bajirao Mastani would be doing their own film and the trade the biggest favour by getting their film to the cinemas on a different date.
Frankly, every single distributor of Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani is unhappy that both the films would be clashing at the ticket windows. Every multiplex chain, every single-screen cinema in the country is hoping for a ‘miracle’ to happen and one of the two films to be shifted ahead. Ideally, a big multiplex may want to give Dilwale 35 or 40 shows a day in the first week. The same big multiplex may want to offer Bajirao Mastani around 20 or more shows per day in the week of release. How many multiplexes in India will be able to do that? In other words, how many multiplexes have the capacity for 60 or more shows per day? Hardly any! That itself should be reason enough for Bajirao Mastani to move away from 18th December and opt for either December 25 or January 22, 2016 (Republic Day week).
Although the trade is waiting with bated breath for the ‘miracle’ to happen, it is hardly going to be a miracle if it does indeed happen. For, it’s pure, simple and unadulterated business logic and nothing more than that. But yes, if it does happen, the troubled trade will definitely consider Lulla and Bhansali as the Gods who came to their rescue!
– Komal Nahta