While Shah Rukh Khan is currently gearing up for the release of Maneesh Sharma's Fan, a film that will enjoy a solo-release on April 15, the box-office prospects of his next film, Rahul Dholakia's Raees, already seem to have him worried.
While Raees was announced as an Eid release and is all set to clash with Ali Abbas Zaffar's Salman Khan-starrer Sultan, things might just take a dramatic turn as Khan has hinted he may back off. In an interview to a PTI, Khan said, "If they are adamant or fixated that somehow due to some sense of righteousness, that Eid belongs to Salman Khan, then so be it." Meanwhile, an article on Bollywood Hungama quotes an unnamed source as saying that this is already a reality.
He also said that it wasn't 'logical' for the two films to clash as they would affect both films, monetarily. He said, "We will try and figure out a way so that it doesn't eat into each other's business. It is awkward. I don't think we would like to have it (box office clash)." Last year, in stark contrast, he had dismissed all controversy over the same, saying: "There is no issue... Let them also release. It’s very simple: their distribution and production offices feel their film should release on Eid, while my distribution office feels that ours is designed for Eid. So, we both have decided [on the same date], but there’s no clash the way it’s being made out to be."
This is uncharacteristic behaviour from Khan, who has, traditionally, never shied away from such a clash. Since the days of Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), the superstar's films have routinely decimated competing movies at the box-office.
In October 2012, Yash Chopra's Jab Tak Hai Jaan, in which he was the lead, fought it out with the Ajay Devgn-starrer Son of Sardaar — a clash that resulted in Devgn filing a complaint with the Competition Commission of India. . Yet, Khan wasn't the one to give in (although he wasn't the producer on the film, Devgn happens to be Kajol's husband, one of Shah Rukh's closest friends. No amends were made.)
In August 2013, his Chennai Express was to clash with Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbaai Dobara, the Akshay Kumar-Sonakshi Sinha-starrer crime saga. A very nasty battle was fought between Khan and Ektaa Kapoor, the latter's producer, who eventually postponed her film by a week. With several arm-wrestling tactics, SRK finally had his way and Chennai Express went on to become a bonafide blockbuster.
However, it is pertinent to recall that the superstar suffered quite a blow with his most recent release, Rohit Shetty's Dilwale (2015), which, released on the same day as Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period epic Bajirao Mastani last December. Despite the obvious rationale of both film's eating into each other's revenues, Khan was quite bullish about Dilwale, a film that reunited him with Kajol, with whom he has delivered multiple hits.
No doubt attempts were made even then to avoid a box-office bloodbath, but Khan remained adamant about releasing the film on December 18, a slot that had been booked by Bhansali for his Ranveer Singh-Deepika Padukone-starrer months in advance.
After a series of scathing reviews and consistently negative word-of-mouth, Dilwale failed to perform as per expectations at the domestic box-office, while Bajirao Mastani raced-past both in terms of acclaim as well as collections.
In a post-release interview, Shah Rukh admitted that he was 'disappointed' by the box-office performance of Dilwale, a film that his company Red Chillies Entertainment had also produced. While the film wasn't termed a disaster as such, it was obvious to industry-watchers that it would have stood a better chance at the turnstiles had it been a solo release.
He hasn't admitted it per se, but it does seem quite plausible that the stinging failure of Dilwale may have led to Khan singing a different tune. Interestingly, his last statements from that PTI interview are very telling of his recent, evolved view on two tentpole films colliding at the box-office.
"Personally Farhan [Akhtar, whose company is producing Raees], Adi [Aditya Chopra, whose company is producing Sultan] and I are friends and I don't think we have ego issues. We all know that if there is an opening number assumed in terms of business we will share it 50-50 or whichever ratio. I am not saying X is a bigger star or Y," said Shah Rukh before adding, "In case of Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani, both lost money due to the clash. One doesn't want it. It has never been a fight of arrogance when it comes to the release of a film. I feel every film should get its due."
One feels like the audience would agree.
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