Clashes in Film Releases: Part 1

Ajay Devgn being briefed by director Amit Ravindernath Sharma for a scene in Maidaan. Photo: Universal Communications

Time was when having two or even three releases on a single day was no big deal. There were far less single-screens, no multiplexes, but stakes were not so crucial. In the 2000s, and progressively, the scenario is far different with the proliferation of screens, media and therefore hype. It is now a prestige issue to have releases on premium dates like Republic Day, Eid, Independence Day, Diwali or Christmas. Egos and expectations of bumper openings and collections get the better of pragmatism, never mind if we will see a minimum definite decrease in collection for both of at least 20 percent!

The first clash in 2024 is that of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Maidaan for Eid, to be followed in Independence Day week by Singham Again with Pushpa 2: The Rule.

This is the perfect opportunity to look back at earlier clashes. But before going back, let me mention that the earlier Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, an action comedy produced by the same Vashu Bhagnani in 1998, locked horns too—with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, losing out badly to that film as the latter emerged as the biggest hit of 1998! Interestingly, the latter film starred Kajol, wife of Ajay Devgn, who plays the lead in the 2024 Bade Miyan…’s competitor, Maidaan!

Lesser-known examples of clashes also include Phool Aur Kaante with Lamhe in 1991’s Diwali week. The former starred two newcomers—Ajay Devgn and Madhoo, while Lamhe starred toppers Sridevi (in a double role) and Anil Kapoor. The former was a masala action-romance with hit music, the latter a serious and revolutionary love story with great melodies. They were helmed respectively by newcomer Kuku Kohli and veteran Yash Chopra. Phool Aur Kaante collected almost double the revenue of the latter film and crossed a 50-week run, while Lamhe did better abroad and reportedly could not recover its investment.

Another lesser-known clash was of Yash Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge—which set the careers of Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Aditya Chopra and composers Jatin-Lalit zooming—with David Dhawan’s Yaraana, which featured Rishi Kapoor with Madhuri Dixit. The latter film came a cropper, which is why no one knows about the clash!

Three releases or more!

In 2004, Diwali saw a bumper feast for the audience with four releases. Veer-Zaara did the best, especially overseas (a year later, Yash Chopra confessed on record that it was only a success and not a hit in India!), Abbas-Mustan’s crime thriller Aitraaz produced by Subhash Ghai proved a success too and got acclaim for Priyanka Chopra. Mughal-E-Azam (the first old movie to be colorized and the only colorized classic to succeed and make profits on its Rs. 3 crore refurbishing budget) was a hit and Ram Gopal Varma’s Naach a disaster.

In Diwali 2005, however, only Garam Masala did well. Its director, Priyadarshan, also had a record of sorts when he also released on the same day his serious drama, Kyon Ki…, starring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan (a pair Sanjay Leela Bhansali was looking at for Bajirao Mastani that he dropped when the pair signed this film!). That film failed, and so did Vashu Bhagnani-David Dhawan’s Shaadi No. 1 with an ensemble of modest stars.

That the Salman-Kareena team seemed jinxed prior to Bajrangi Bhaijaan in 2015 was shown by the abysmal response to Main Aur Mrs. Khanna in Diwali 2009. But then, it was an overall weak Diwali that year, as only Rohit Shetty-Ajay Devgn’s comedy, All The Best did decent business, attaining cult status later. A calamity again that year and week was Blue, featuring Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif and Sanjay Dutt.

Another not-so-well-known clash now was of Rakesh Roshan’s Hrithik Roshan starrer Krissh 3 and Shah Rukh Khan’s home production, Chennai Express in 2013, as the two films were positioned on either side of Diwali as per the days of the week. While the latter proved a hit, the former was just a success. However, rivalry led to both films’ producers (Rakesh Roshan and Gauri Shah Rukh Khan) hyping collections beyond Rs. 200 crore nett in India!

Shah Rukh Khan with Salman Khan in Zero. Photo: Publicity Photo

Inconsequential ‘clashes’

First and foremost among the inconsequential clashes were that of a Hindi movie with a South-made ‘pan-India’ film. Zero clashed with the Kannada pan-Indian KGF in 2018, but while the latter did prove successful, the former was a calamity. Yet, how can we compare an essentially South film with a Hindi one, except in the South where the local film will obviously have an edge? And in 2022, The Kashmir Files completely routed the pan-Indian South disaster, Radhe Shyam.

Last year, Dunki and the South-made Salaar were also pitted against each other last year, but the former underperformed in Hindi while the latter did very well down South. Obviously both camps, pre-release, went at each other’s throats on social media.

And purely in Hindi, we had Haider from Vishal Bhardwaj versus Bang Bang! from Siddharth Anand in 2014. The former was a clear flop, although touted as a hit still, though the filmmaker confessed at Mumbai’s MAMI International Film Festival on stage that none of his movies had made profits! Bang Bang! did net 100 crore in India, but is said to have not recovered its astronomical investment and could be actually termed a loser!

So let us go in for the rest of the truly historic clashes the next time.




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