YRF vs. Devgan

It has been a dramatic few weeks in B-town. For those who haven’t heard, here is a breakdown.

After the death of Yash Chopra (film maker extraordinaire, visionary, unique, king of romance etc) pressure is said to have been placed on Ajay  Devgan* and his producers to release his Son of Sardaar two weeks later then the scheduled 13 November (Diwali) as a mark of respect or a nod of his fraternity hat to Yash-ji’s final film, Shah Rukh Khan starrer Jab Tak Hai Jaan which was also scheduled to release on the same day.

Coincidentally, a few days prior to Yash-ji’s death Ajay had filed a case against Yash Raj Films (YRF) regarding a deal they had made with multiplexes and other distributors when Ek Tha Tiger was pre-release. In lay terms, YRF had sold the distribution rights** of Ek Tha Tiger at a subsidized figure if a certain amount of screens were also allotted to Jab Tak Hai Jaan for its release. Ajay claimed this deal meant Son of Sardaar only had a small number of screens at all centres and zones left to claim.

I was watching Zoom (an entertainment channel) last night and on the eve of the release of both movies this case was now being called ‘the clash of two star egos’. Both Ajay Devgan and Shah Rukh Khan are being touted as having a huge amount of self-respect riding on these films, especially as they are releasing on the same big holiday weekend that has seen many such face-offs between superstars over the years and a weekend that has seen some movies crash and burn while others become blockbusters.

Funnily enough, every interview (and there have been several) not to mention guest appearances, cameos and promotional events that I have seen where either of the cast members are present – neither has had anything negative to say about the other. SRK has wished Son of Sardaar well, he’s repeatedly said that there is no reason why both movies can’t do well. Ajay has been just as cordial and caught out several journalists who insist on asking directed questions. He was recently asked if he thought SRK wouldn’t watch Son of Sardaar as it wasn’t his cup of tea – to which he replied, ‘Has SRK said this to you? Did he actually voice this opinion anywhere?’ The journalist shook her head and sat down quietly.

From what I’ve seen, Ajay and co were upset with the deal made between YRF and the distributors, he feels things like this mean that other films have to lose out on the numbers of screens their movies can be shown at. I agree with this, it does sound unfair. If you consider the amount of money that has gone into making both films, big-budget multi-starrer’s that they are, a handful of screens will make a difference. The other none case related but equally discussed ‘should he move the release date’ question is just as unjust, considering the money and promotional work done by everyone, asking anyone to reschedule a release so close to its date is wrong.

Besides, I think both films can do well. Each film has its target audience and while some will cross over there is no reason why both can’t be seen. I was following the circuit news uptil about three or so hours ago and both films were neck and neck. While one was popular in certain regions, the other was house full elsewhere.

Quick previews-

Son of Sardaar
Ajay Devgan, Sonakshi Sinha, Sanjay Dutt, Juhi Chawla and Vindoo Dara Singh
Punjabi drama-comedy-action-romantic movie. Looks set to be quite funny and in the same vein as Rowdy Rathore, Dabangg etc the larger then life hero, the mustache twirling villain, the feisty but traditional heroine. No big premier, but Ajay, Sonakshi and Sanjay held separate previews for their friends and families.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan
Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma
Romance, drama with action on the side. Yash Chopra’s final romance, as he was the king of new ways to woo an audience with his romantic dramas I’m expecting milna-bicharna, passion, junoon and maybe even an angry young man or two. There was a massive premier with everybody from the Bachchans and Rekha to Parineeti Chopra attending. You can view the pics here.

I’m heading to see both tomorrow. Was initially very excited about Jab Tak Hai Jaan, and my mother has been enjoying the Son of Sardaar previews, so why not, we’ll be supporting both. I’ll have figures of first day collections and reviews for you tomorrow.

*He spells it Devgn but we’ll get into that another time
** Read: the rights to screen the film at theaters in multiplexes, single screens etc

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