Cracker of a Diwali: Ajay Devgn v/s Yashraj Films

Bollywood braces up for a blockbuster Diwali as two high-profile releases 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' and 'Son Of Sardaar' clash at the box office. Meanwhile, there are other battles ensuing as well

Sohini Mitter
Published: 08, Nov 2012

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Bollywood battles are fascinating. The ongoing tussle between two production houses – Yashraj Films (YRF) and Ajay Devgn Films (ADF) – on the number of single screens allotted to their upcoming Diwali releases Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ) and Son Of Sardar (SOS) respectively have reached courts.

After the Competition Commission of India (CCI) rejected ADF’s plea against YRF (which alleged that YRF used its dominant position in the industry to arm-twist exhibitors and distributors to release JTHJ in maximum number of single-screen theatres, Devgn has approached the Competition Apellate Tribunal against the order.

"We are shocked by the rejection of our legitimate case by the CCI,” a spokesperson from ADF films said in a statement.

Meanwhile, India’s foremost production house had earlier clarified that bookings for JTHJ were not monopolistic and did not disturb rules of competition. News agency IANS reported that officials at YRF were “shocked” over Devgn’s claims of manipulation.

"The case of ADF is that a producer/distributor/exhibitor cannot be allowed to enter into a tie-in arrangement which adversely affects competition. YRF has entered into a tie-in arrangement with the exhibitors in a manner that has made it compulsory for the exhibitors to exhibit the untitled movie of YRF on Diwali day and two weeks thereafter with all four shows," said an official statement from the lawyers of ADF.

YRF claims that it has booked only about 1,500 screens out of the 10,500-plus single screens available in India. (There are about 1,400 multiplex screens in the country.) And this arrangement was easy because of the “goodwill” they shared with distributors and exhibitors.

Image Courtesy: YRF Pvt Ltd

"All the exhibitors, when approached by us earlier this year for booking their theatres, were happy to play out Yashji's movie considering their long-standing and emotional relationship and goodwill with YRF of over 40 years. A Yash Chopra-Shah Rukh Khan movie, coming after a gap of eight long years, did not need any coercion for contractual screening,” a senior YRF official told the media.

Some sources in the film trade point out that screen bookings for JTHJ were completed in August as a part of a “package deal” with YRF’s Eid release Ek Tha Tiger (which went on to gross more than Rs 300 crore at the box office). Hence, when Devgn sought single screen exhibitors, most of them were already committed to JTHJ.

Such wars between big banners and stars are not uncommon in Bollywood. At a time when first-day box office collections nearly make or break a film, production houses try to ensure they have a smooth run at the theatres by clinically avoiding a release of their film with any other major release. And big banners leave no stone unturned to release their big-budget flicks as widely as possible, both in India and overseas. For instance, YRF's last flick ETT was released with nearly 5,000 prints across the globe.

Additionally, festivals are a major attraction for producers. They are money-minting seasons where box office collections reach their zenith. The Khans have almost become synonymous with their festival releases. Salman owns Eid, Shahrukh rules Diwali and Aamir feasts on Christmas.

Hence Devgn's dilemma lies in the fact that if he delays the release of SOS by a week or two, it clashes with another big banner's big film with big stars: Excel Entertainment's Aamir Khan-starrer Talaash is scheduled for release on November 30 and has already generated a lot of hype.

While sections of the media have made it out to be a war between two of Hindi cinema’s biggest and most bankable stars - Shah Rukh Khan and Devgn (who reportedly are not great friends), the latter insists that he’s being made out to be the villain.

"I had filed the complaint much before the demise of Yash Chopra. When this happened I was like people are going to target me and nobody is going to understand my point of view... I was a villain on both sides. I couldn't withdraw it (notice) from the Competition Commission... It is not a normal court,” the actor-producer told news agency PTI.

Yash Chopra, SRK and Diwali

While the legal battle between YRF and ADF reaches a crescendo, here’s a look at how Diwali has been integral to both Yash Chopra (whose demise just weeks before the film’s release has added to the buzz surrounding JTHJ) and SRK (who thrives on the festival of lights).

JTHJ is Chopra’s and SRK’s third Diwali release together after Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) and Veer-Zaara (2004) which set multiple records at the box office. Meanwhile, SRK’s other Diwali releases (two of them with YRF) include Baazigar (1993), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Mohabbatein (2000), Don (2006), Om Shanti Om (2007) and Ra.One (2011). All these films have gone on to rewrite box office history and set benchmarks of various kinds. Without these Diwali successes, perhaps superstar SRK would never have been.

Only time will tell whether JTHJ will be an addition to this illustrious list. But for Devgn, whose last year's Diwali release Golmaal 3 rocked the box-office, there's a lot of legal 'golmaal' likely to ensue.

  • sensar singh

    sos is best ........

    on Nov 14, 2012
  • ammar jamil

    i really watnt to great success of JTHJ. bcus srk is my favrt

    on Nov 13, 2012
  • Lalit pardhan

    u will always king of bollywood bcs Jab tak h jan Jab tak h jan Jab tak h jan......... Keep smile S R K i like ur dimple

    on Nov 10, 2012
  • Lalit pardhan

    Shahruk your film is a very good film i hope this film will be broke all record of film industry ad i pray to god that ur film earn 4-5 billion at the all cinemas and i m waiting ur film i love u shahruk i like ur film songs mostly sans cos its a very romance full song Jiyo hmare king

    on Nov 10, 2012
  • mehtab arabi

    sorry i wrote some wrong or missed word so jab tak hai jaan >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> than sos. the best flope of the year

    on Nov 10, 2012
  • mehtab arabi

    shahrukh dont worru you will rock again this movie make a new record in industry shahrukh khan you are the actor in the word you one can touch your ability finally i wish you for jab tak hai jaan shahrukh you are not only khe king of romace you king in every field

    on Nov 10, 2012
  • tusshar kashyap

    srk is one of the best actor in film industry.. his movie will definately make a blockbuster record in cinemas this diwali nov13,2012.. i wish all the yrf production and srk,katrina and anushka..... aal the best for ur movie...

    on Nov 9, 2012
  • rajendra

    ajay definatly rock and sos blockbuster clearly ajay win

    on Nov 9, 2012
  • S khan

    All the best Ajay. SOS will be blockbuster no matter how many screens you get. You are a nice man in public's eyes.

    on Nov 8, 2012
  • ahsan

    jab tak hain jaan tak tak ur my best hero in whole life. i luv u srk.

    on Nov 8, 2012
  • ahsan

    u will be beat the all record. insallah

    on Nov 8, 2012

    YRF has unexpected Ajay who is ruling diwali from couple of years.The release date was 1 st announced by Ajay a month before YRF release.But YRF who have miracle history of hits in last 4 decades fails to make fear Ajay Devgn Films which was also mentioned by devagn in interview that if instead of me if Salman ,Aamir or Akshay movie is there then YRF is not so brave to set there release. The efficiency of Bollywood box office for a single day is near about 31-32 crore ,so JTHJ will manage to keep 22-25crore maximum for a single day if the movie is outstanding while SOS will keep 6 crore on opening in domestic market but the side which will affect JTHJ will overseas and Ajay is promoting SOS in various landmarks across globe .So in overseas SOS can make down JTHJ by 25 crore as per as his efficency of SRK in overseas.At close of box office collection JTHJ can hopefully lose 55-60 crore

    on Nov 8, 2012
  • Ameet

    We lost in CCI because the complaint was badly drafted and there no application of mind as usual.

    on Nov 8, 2012
    • Ashish Patna

      Dont wory Mr Ajay Devgan u r Ajay Ajay means jise kavi parajit nai kiya ja sakta, we pray 4 ur victory, m fully confident u will b victorious. Son Of Sardar will do better than Jb tk h jan. Just hope 4 d best n 4get d rest.

      on Nov 8, 2012
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