Padmaavat is one of the most controversial movies in quite a while. This is really saying something since we have a knack of getting outraged at the drop of a hat. Being indignant and resentful at things others do, say or express in some other form is our favourite pastime. Even after repeated assurances by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, extremists are refusing to bow down and allege that Bhansali and Padmaavat, that stars Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, is “distorting” history. This would be a valid argument if Padmaavat were history. It is not. As the makers have made clear, the film is based on Awadhi Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic, Padmavat. Even if Bhansali were distorting history, this does not take away his right to make historically inaccurate and badly directed movies as India is a democracy and a democracy cannot function without freedom of expression.
But in spite of all of that, Padmaavat is well on its way to creating history at the box office.
Padmaavat may become one of the biggest Bollywood movies of all time due to many factors. First, it is a Sanjay Leela Bhansali production that invariably has a large audience. Second, it has three A-listers from Bollywood, all three of whom have proven acting chops. Third, the controversy that has been suspended above the film like dark clouds may prove to be a blessing in disguise for Bhansali. We have seen in the past how controversies are deliberately created to promote stuff, and while we do not think Padmaavat controversy is engendered by the makers, it might, nevertheless, catapult Padmaavat to unprecedented box office performance. While Akshay Kumar’s PadMan was also scheduled to release on the same day, the actor has now moved the release date to February 9 and has thus cleared the ticket windows for Padmaavat.
Padmaavat releases on Republic Day eve, January 25. Many other filmmakers have tried to cash in the Republic Day holiday by releasing their movies on and around January 26. Last year’s Kaabil and Raees, starring Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan, released on January 25 and went on to be moderate hits at the box office. Kaabil opened at Rs 10.43 crore, while Raees opened at Rs 20.42 crore.
In 2016, however, the story is different. Akshay Kumar’s Airlift was the only big film that released around Republic Day (January 22) and went on to be a huge success. It opened at Rs 12.35 crore. Akshay’s formula of cashing on the wave of ‘patriotism’ worked in 2015 too, when his Baby, that released on January 23, became a hit. Baby had opened with Rs 9.3 crore.
2014’s Jai Ho too proved to be a humongous success and just another hit. It released on January 24 and earned Rs 17.75 crore on its opening day.
As we have seen, the last few years’ Republic Day releases have been quite profitable. The films tend to be successful if there is enough buzz and it is a production house backing them. One could not have asked for more buzz than Padmaavat is already getting, and it is a gargantuan production, and if all goes well and the film gets a peaceful release (Karni Sena has threatened to burn theatres that dare to showcase the film, among other things) Padmaavat has every chance of breaking previous records.