Same release dates don’t always prove fruitful for either owing to the big risks involved. Industry insiders gauge who wins the battle eventually...
Throughout 2017, the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s grand creation, the erstwhile Padmavati, was uncertain. In fact, it was even debated if the film would even see the light of the day, owing to the numerous controversies around it.
As it turns out though, Bhansali’s historical drama — now cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) with a U/A certification and a reported 300 suggested cuts, and a name change to Padmavat — is looking to be released on January 25 this year. The film clashes with Akshay Kumar’s much awaited film Pad Man.
The Republic Day holiday has a lot of bidders since massive turnovers can be expected out of this day. But with two anticipated films releasing on the same day, it might spell disaster for either of them — or both.
“It is obvious that both movies are trying to make the most of a very lucrative release date,” says distributor Rajesh Thadani. At the same time, he predicts these clashes will happen often through 2018. “There are so many big films scheduled to release this year that releases clashing with each other will be inevitable,” he shrugs.
In the past, Bollywood clashes haven’t exactly worked out in the favour of both the parties involved. In 2007, when best friends Farah Khan and Shah Rukh Khan collaborated for Om Shanti Om, they had an upper hand over Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor-starrer Saawariya. Over the last year, any two movies clashing at the box office proved fatal for the other. Between Raees and Kaabil, the former managed to bag a better collection by making `20.42 crore on just the first day, while Kaabil made just about half of the money. With Baadshaho and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan also competing at the box office, the former opened to a big weekend, compared to Ayushmann Khurrana’s movie, which dealt with erectile dysfunction. However, into the second weekend, Baadshaho saw a big drop while Ayushmann’s film remained steady.
Now, here is where the content comes in to play, say experts. Tallying old clashes with the new ones, film historian S.M.M. Ausaja recalls how these competitions don’t always prove fruitful for the films clashing. “When Kuch Kuch Hota Hai released, it went up against Amitabh Bachchan’s Bade Miyan, Chote Miyan. And while the latter movie gained momentum from the get-go, viewers soon moved to the Shah Rukh starrer, as a result of its better plot,” he says.
Agreeing with Ausaja, Rajesh points out that the competition is bound to affect both films. “Pad Man was already fixed to release on Republic Day, which is probably why they are sticking to it. But Padmavat makers probably think that they have an edge since there has been so much hype around the movie,” he adds.
While that may be true, film analyst Omar Qureshi believes that these tricks don’t gain movies much credit on the battlefield. And that in the end, there is only one victor — the storyline. “With the spate of poor big films this year, filmmakers are ensuring that they spare no trick in the book, but then tricks matter only for a circus. For a good story it can help but for a bad one no trick can save it,” he asserts.
But it does look like sales for both the films will be affected. “Whenever two big movies clash at the box office, what usually happens is that the one with the stronger content ends up making much more, while the other film makes a loss. It is not very often that both films come through unscathed through a clash, though it’s not unheard of,” explains Rajesh.
While it is established that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavat has an upper hand over Pad Man owing to its massive investment (`200 crore) and the filmmaker’s detailed eye, it also looks like this clash will see the period drama eat up screen numbers too. “There is bound to be a clash between exhibitors and distributors for this film next week,” says Rajesh. “I’m sure we will only know the exact number of screens they both get sometime closer to the release date. But even here, Padmavat has an edge since it’s on a much bigger scale than Pad Man.”