In trade circles,the biggest news these days is not when a film is releasing but when a film is not releasing. With Ekta Kapoor deciding to push back the release of Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Dobara by a week,Shah Rukh Khan gets the screen space to release his Chennai Express on the eid weekend of August 8. Balajis Akshay Kumar-Imran Khan-Sonakshi Sinha starrer will now release on the Independence Day weekend of August 15. Ektas decision comes just in time as the publicity blitz for the biggies was starting. While it makes sense to have some breathing space between two big-ticket films so that they dont eat into each others share,its also beneficial for maintaining good relationships. Bollywood as we know,prides itself on being a fraternity (when it matters) where goodwill is a major currency. Normally clashes on the box office also mean clashes
in newsprint. not everybody is like Aamir Khan and Sunny Deol who have battled it out twice with grace when Dil and Ghayal released in 1990 and when Lagaan and Gadar: Ek Prem Katha came out in 2001. the battle lines were drawn by SRK and Sanjay Leela Bhansali few diwalis ago when Om Shanti Om (OSO) clashed with Saawariya. at the time,SRK had famously declared in an interview,Ill destroy them, speaking of team Saawariya. to which Bhansali famously retorted He doesnt put food on our table. Who is he to destroy us? OSO director Farah Khan was also caught in the crossfire and it took biryani from her kitchen to eventually patch up with Bhansali. SRK and Bhansali put up such a memorable fight that everybody took notes. Full marks then to Balaji and UTV,the producers of Chennai Express,for settling it without getting their hands dirty. it is believed that SRK called and requested Ektas father,Jeetendra to intervene. it must have been a tough decision for Ekta who is at the top of her game and actually had announced her films release date first when it was clear that Salman Khan wouldnt be able to keep his annual Eid date.
With film business increasingly becoming all about the opening weekend,no producer wants to take a chance. Just as it is becoming easy to set opening day records its becoming easier to break them too. Eid,Diwali,Xmas,independence day might be considered as safe landing dates but ultimately its the film with legs that makes the difference. For all the hype and the fight,lets hope the films are good.