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Friday Fight: The War Between YRF and ADF

Now that Ajay Devgn has dragged Yash Raj Films (YRF) to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) one can safely say that we have entered a whole new era in the off-screen drama, writes Gautam Chintamani

brunch Updated: Nov 09, 2012 17:35 IST
Gautam Chintamani

For a while now there's more drama surrounding the release of a big budget film than the film itself. Irrespective of their differences, producers often worked things out amongst themselves when it came to two big films releasing on the same day. For them the bigger enemies were the cinema halls or distributors but now that Ajay Devgn has dragged Yash Raj Films (YRF) to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) one can safely say that we have entered a whole new era in the off-screen drama.

There have been instances in the past where two big budget films not only released on the same day but also didn't eat into each other's business. A decade ago when Lagaan and Gaddar- Ek Prem Katha hit the screens together it was assumed that had they not released together their collections would have been higher but over a few weeks they actually ended up complimenting each other. Today such a thing wouldn't be possible as films aim to maximize collections as early as possible.

One of the best ways of ensuring that is a wide release. Additionally post Dabangg the sudden interest in single screens for a specific kind of films has made it a little more complicated. The whole blockbuster phenomenon was redefined by the single screen success of Dabangg and now any film that dreams of 100 crores or more can't avoid single screens. It wouldn't be incorrect to think that Son of Sardaar is the kind of film that would need front row taali-seethi crowd often associated with single screen patronage to make its money. Now between a Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Son of Sardaar it's very clear that the former would do better in multiplexes but with it being Yash Chopra's final film and featuring Shah Rukh Khan the single screens would lap it up as well. This is where the plot thickened.

A release across thousand plus screens is pretty much the norm for big films. The plan is very simple- higher the number of screens, greater the profits in shortest time possible. Imagine a day when you go to you nearest cinema hall and have to choose between 18 shows of the same film…and this is the state at all theaters near you. Devgn's Bol Bachan was released over 1300 screens and why wouldn't he want the same for Son of Sardaar? Had it not been Diwali or had Diwali fallen closer to the weekend this feud between him and Yash Raj Films wouldn't have happened. This fight would eventually make life hell for cinema halls, as producers wouldn't confront each other beyond a point and once again the cinema halls would have to bear the brunt. The impact of Devgn-YRF spat can already be seen in producers of Talaash asking cinema halls to ensure a clear two-week run thereby forcing Akshay Kumar's Khiladi 786 to wait. If you think this kind of a demand is gentle arm-twisting then you aren't wrong. When an YRF makes a certain demand the manner in which it's addressed suggests the future course of action. In most instances cinema halls have no other option but to tilt the scales in a certain direction.

Devgn could have been partially been driven by the fact that Son of Sardaar might not repeat the Golmaal or Singham kind of success he is now accustomed to. This writer believes that somewhere Devgn knows that the first three days is the time where Son of Sardaar could make a killing keeping the festival rush in mind and YRF is out there to spoil his party. Though Devgn claims that he approached the CCI while Yash Chopra was still alive, the legendary director's death changed everything. Principally Devgn's stand is one that a lot of people in the industry would silently support but no one would like to stick out like a sore thumb after Yash Chopra's demise. In Bollywood everything revolves under that Friday and the moment November 13 ends thing would go back to the way they were. Life would carry on as if nothing happened only till two big films lock horns again. This attitude exists because irrespective of where people stand on this fight they are convinced that given a chance Devgn could have very well been YRF to someone else. And yes, they are also convinced that Devgn wouldn't have budged.

Gautam Chintamani is an award-winning writer/filmmaker with over a decade of experience across print and electronic mediums.

(The views expressed by the author are personal)

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