In a development that has shocked many in Bollywood, actor-producer Ajay Devgn has served a legal notice to Yash Raj Films for unfairly using their dominant position in the industry and putting pressure on the exhibitors to give prominence to their upcoming film, Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ), over Devgn’s Son of Sardaar (SOS). Both the films are set to release on Diwali, i.e. on November 13. Considering the old rivalry between JTHJ’s lead actor Shah Rukh Khan and Ajay Devgn, the clash is touted as one of the biggest in recent Bollywood history.
Although the notice was filed on October 18 — three days prior to JTHJ’s director Yash Chopra’s death —it was served to his son, Aditya, only on Wednesday.
Ever since Yash Chopra’s demise, there has been talk about whether Devgn should postpone his film’s release to give a clear run to Chopra’s film as a mark of respect — a prospect Devgn has outrightly rejected. Even Shah Rukh Khan recently called it unfair to ask anyone to reschedule his film. “Yashji would have also wished for the other film to do well. Everyone puts in the same amount of hard work and love in their films. It is business at the end of day,” said Shah Rukh Khan.
Sonakshi Sinha and Ajay Devgn in a still from Son of Sardaar
But with Devgn’s legal notice, things are bound to heat up. “This is ridiculous. Ajay Devgn is wasting his time. YRF didn’t force the distributors, they just offered a choice and it was up to the distributors. If we are getting a good deal, why wouldn’t we take it? Ajay Devgn is just bringing on shame on himself. In fact, he has bleaked his movie’s chances in terms of business,” says film distributer Joginder Mahajan. “This legal notice is not in good taste, considering it’s barely been a few days since Yash Chopra died. Ajay Devgn could have talked things out,” says trade expert Atul Mohan. Analysts predict that with the clash, the films are bound to eat into each others’ business by at least 30-35%. “They were neck to neck but now JTHJ has an upper hand due to the emotional element after Yashji’s death,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan
Budget: Rs. 50 crore
Number of screens booked: Around 2,500
Promotional strategy: Except launching a couple of songs and the press conference, JTHJ’s promotions have been quiet. But we hear that some big plans are in place for the next 15 days. A huge premiere is being planned on November 12. Also, now SRK, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma are making appearances together. SRK and Katrina shot for a special KBC episode. The team may also visit the TV show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. In the coming days, a JTHJ special ad featuring SRK and Katrina is also being planned.
Buzz so far: Being Yash Chopra’s last directorial and SRK’s romantic comeback, there’s a lot of interest.
*Budget and screen numbers based on trade estimates
Inputs by Shalvi Mangaokar
Son of Sardaar
Budget: Rs. 30 crore
Number of screens booked: Around 1,700
Promotional strategy: Ajay Devgn has gone all out for the film. He and Sonakshi sang the National Anthem at the F1 race in the city, shot for a special Diwali television programme and appeared on reality shows (KBC and Bigg Boss). In addition to a YouTube campaign, it has also generated some buzz on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
Buzz so far: For an item song, Po po, Ajay roped in Salman Khan. The music is fast gaining popularity.
Diwali clashes in the past five years
2011: RA.One, Tell Me O Kkhuda and Damadamm. Only RA.One scored moderately.
2010: Golmaal 3 and Action Replayy. Golmaal 3 was the bigger hit.
2009: All The Best, Main Aur Mrs Khanna and Blue. Only All The Best made profit.
2008: Fashion, Golmaal Returns, Roadside Romeo and Heroes. Only the first two did well.
2007: Saawariya and Om Shanti Om (OSO). OSO was the clear winner.