Shocking is how Bollywood production house Yash Raj Films has described actor-producer Ajay Devgn’s allegation that they indulged in “malpractice” to put pressure on the exhibitors, especially single screen theatre owners, to screen YRF’s SRK-starrer Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ) and not Devgn’s Son of Sardar (SOS) that releases the same day.
In a strongly worded statement, YRF says that the news of a “legal notice” by Devgn through the Competition Commission of India (CCI)is not true. “We would like to clarify that we still haven’t received any notice from the Commission,” says their statement, adding that Devgn has so far only sent a complaint letter to CCI. It adds, “Worldwide, as well as in India, distributors often sign deals for their complete annual slate of films to simplify the process.
We trust the Competition Commission will also see it as universally acceptable fair business practise.” The statement further says, “Interestingly, of the 10,500 plus single screens available on an all-India basis, we have booked less than 1,500 single screens (an industry norm for an A-lister movie), a fact that has been common knowledge for some time now. If this was an issue, why wasn’t it raised earlier? Why wait till now when both films are nearing release?”
While Ajay Devgn Films was yet to respond till the time of going to press, sources close to Devgn say that Yash Raj Films had arm twisted single screen theatres into booking their theatres for Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Ek Tha Tiger (ETT) that opened in August, as a package deal. “Theatre-owners knew that ETT will cross 15-200 crore and in a rush, they agreed,” says an insider. The source adds: “A delay in Devgn’s film would also push the release of other films such as Aamir’s Talassh and Akshay (Khiladi 786).” SL Bunker of the Competition Commission Of India says, “We have received the complaint and will examine it closely.”
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