December 18 is the day when Sanjay Leela Bhansali clashes with Shah Rukh Khan at the box office.
Bhansali’s epic historical Bajirao Mastani and the new Shah Rukh Khan starrer Dilwale are all set to spar on the same Friday in December.
Trade experts who don’t want to be named are worried.
An eminent producer known to churn out a nearly uninterrupted flow of hits predicts, “While Bajirao Mastani is likely to be a modern classic, it is the combination of Shah Rukh Khan and director Rohit Shetty that will draw in the crowds initially. The audience will first see Dilwale then Bajirao Mastani.”
In the meanwhile, the battle for theatres has begun. One hears that Shah Rukh’s production house Red Chillies will be booking a majority of the screens across the country.
“They have the clout. No one says no to Shah Rukh Khan. Remember when his Jab Tak Hai Jaan had clashed with Ajay Devgn’s Son Of Sardaar over Christmas in 2010? Ajay was left with little choice in terms of theatrical outlets,” says an unnamed trade expert.
As for moving out of the way, neither film is likely to do so.
Reasons Taran Adarsh, “I don’t think Dilwale or Bajirao Mastani will shift from their December 18 release date. The respective producers are sticking to the release date. Bajirao Mastani has already commenced promotions, while the trailer of Dilwale will be attached to Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. In any case, the release of these two biggies is timed during the Christmas and New Year vacations and I genuinely feel, two good films can easily co-exist in today’s times. It’s a great period, with holidays aplenty, so why postpone? “
Adds trade analyst Atul Mohan, “We have enough number of screens to accommodate both the films. Suggesting to anyone to bow out to make room for the other can appear to be a biased move. Agreed that the stakes are high but both the producers are strong and know the business more than we know.”
However, Atul warns about the pitfalls of the purported twin explosion in the pre-Christmas week. “The point to be noted here is that 18 Dec is not a festive week, like Eid or Diwali. The business will be elevated in the following week when Xmas holidays begin. May the better and bigger film do big business.”
Amen to that.
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