You’ve heard of on-field rivalries that affect equations off the cricket ground. But this time, things seem to be in reverse motion. If sources are to be believed, professional rivalry between two actors will bear on the promotions of the T20 cricket tournament, Indian Premier League (IPL) that starts this week.
The Akshay Kumar-starrer Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai 2 (OUATIM 2) and Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express are set to clash at the box office during the Eid period, which is seen as a lucrative release window for films.
Apparently, the makers of OUATIM 2 were in talks with IPL organisers for some promotional activities during the tournament. "The tie-up was being talked about, since the IPL gets a lot of viewership. And though the organisers don’t want the focus to move away from cricket, they do tie-up with big films," says an insider.
However, it’s believed that Shah Rukh — whose film clashes with OUATIM 2 — has managed to keep the rival film away from the tournament. SRK’s firm Red Chillies Entertainment is putting together the IPL opening ceremony in Kolkata today.
"He has asked Cineyug (run by the Morani brothers, who are close to SRK), the firm that is helping put together the ceremony, to ensure that OUATIM 2 gets no visibility at the event. Besides, SRK not only owns an IPL team (Kolkata Knight Riders), but is also close to the league’s top brass," adds the insider. "If talks had been fruitful, Akshay might also have been part of the opening ceremony. But things didn’t reach that point."
While the OUATIM 2 makers refrained from making a comment, IPL chief executive Sundar Raman says, "We have no idea about any such thing. We don’t do film promotions at IPL."
SRK’s team refused to go on record, but a source close to the actor says, "It’s rubbish. Shah Rukh doesn’t even get involved in his team meetings, so you can forget IPL deals. He’s an actor, and doesn’t get involved in anything else." We tried contacting the Morani brothers, but they remained unavailable.