By Arundhuti Banerjee
Mumbai, Jan 26 (IANS) Even as cinemas are fully to become profitable ventures once again in the post-lockdown scenario, two of the biggest releases this year are already lined up for a box office clash that could dent prospects of an already suffering the film trade. The much-hyped RRR and Maidaan have both been confirmed for an October 13 release this year.
RRR is a directorial venture of Baahubali-famed SS Rajamouli and the film stars Ram Charan, Jr. NTR, Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn. The film, rumoured to be riding a budget of over Rs 450 crore, is slated to releases in Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam languages.
Maidaan is a biopic of legendary football coach Syed Abdul Rahim. Starring Ajay Devgn, the film is directed by Amit Sharma and is slated to release in Hindi, Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam languages.
“When the call of the film industry should be to stand by each other, because of the rough time that we are going through due to Covid-19, a date clash of two big multi-lingual films, is the last thing that we could expect. I announced my release date of ‘Maidaan’ much much earlier and the release date of ‘RRR’ is decided yesterday. Wasn’t it an ethical thing to have a talk with me for the makers (of RRR) before the announcement they made?”
“Exhibitors will suffer, as the audience will get divided on opening (day). We have to give space to each other so that we can optimise the numbers in a possible way. From outside, it only shows that there is no brotherhood existing among each other,” Maidaan producer Boney Kapoor told IANS.
Kapoor claimed he had called Rajamouli regarding the matter. “I did call him and he explained to me that deciding the release date was in the hand of the producer. I am a producer and I know that when we take a call, we discuss with the director, lead actor and other team members first.”
Considering Ajay Devgn is a lead actor in both films, was he consulted and did he try to resolve the matter?
“Ajay got to know about the date clash and he suggested to the makers (of RRR) to have words with me because my date was announced much earlier. But nobody made a call to talk to me. Rather, I called up Rajamouli to find a way so that both the film found space. But his response was a mere formality,” Kapoor claimed.
The film trade, too, would ideally want to see the clash avoided.
Trade analyst Komal Nahta told IANS: “I think it will affect the business for sure because announcing two films of an A-lister (refers to Ajay Devgn) on the same date – that too under these circumstances — is not done. This way both films will suffer, especially in the South market.”
Kapoor on his part is in no mood to reschedule Maidaan.”I have all the reason to hold my ground because we announced our date first,” Kapoor declared. It has been said that Kapoor announced the release date of Maidaan six months ago.
Nahta feels the current low footfalls in theatres is bound to increase, and it is up to big films like RRR and Maidaan to maximise revenue intake of the film industry, not cut into each other’s business.
“In January and February the footfalls in theatres is not that good but by October the footfalls will increase. So a date clash will not benefit anybody. You see, both these films will release in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. So, it will divide the numbers, cut into each other’s space. I just hope they find a solution,” Nahta said.
When IANS reached out to the RRR team, we were told by the film’s publicists: “So far, the producers are not willing to comment on the matter. If there is something, we will let you know.”
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Arundhuti Banerjee