Why did Shah Rukh, Aanand L Rai block their film’s release date 2 1/2 years in advance?

Is this an out-of-the-box strategy by the Baadshah? 

Keyur Seta

After the Tanu Weds Manu series and Raanjhanaa, director Aanand L Rai became a name to reckon with. This became further evident when he struck gold as a producer this year with Nil Battey Sannata and Happy Bhag Jayegi. Therefore, when he cast Shah Rukh Khan for his next, the film automatically became keenly anticipated. 

But Rai and Khan have taken everyone by surprise by announcing the release date of the film almost two-and-a-half years in advance. As per their latest announcement, the film, which is yet untitled, will be released on 21 December 2018. Now that is a very long way away!

Khan recently completed shooting Gauri Shinde’s next titled Dear Zindagi, which will be released later this year on 25 November. He is currently in Czech shooting for Imtiaz Ali’s The Ring. The film is expected to release mid-2017. This brings a gap of more than a year-and-a-half between two of his films. 

So, one really wonders as to what can be the reason for deciding 21 December 2018 as the date and, more so, announcing it so early. The only justification one can find is to make sure nobody else releases their film on that day. Blocking a date in advance to avoid clash is not a new method. But this theory doesn’t hold water in this case. 

This simply because unfortunately Khan isn’t a box-office hurricane any more, at least going by his last couple of releases. Along with him, Dilwale boasted of other big names too like Kajol, Rohit Shetty and Varun Dhawan. But it didn’t prove to be fruitful as the film lost to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani, which released on the same day and had Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. 

Fan, Khan's next release turned out to be a bigger problem for him, apart from the distributors and producers. In fact, it was the failure of this film that has affected Khan’s box-office power the most. Who would have expected his much talked-about solo release to crash at the ticket window? This is further difficult to believe since the film displayed his acting talent after a long time. 

The result of Fan has ensured that the clash of his Raees with Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil is being looked as an equal battle. Under normal circumstances, one would bet for SRK any day. But that is not the case now, despite Roshan's Mohenjo Daro turning out to be a flop. 

So, the theory of avoiding a clash doesn’t seem the reason. Maybe, this might be a well-thought strategy by the Baadshah. You never know.