Hindi cinema's date with Christmas

Aimed at avoiding future clashes, producers book Christmas well in advance for 2016, 2017 and 2018 film releases.

Mayur Lookhar

Competition offers viewers choice, but it spells bad business for the industry. Even if one competitor fails badly, the other cannot reach his full box-office potential.

Hrithik Roshan’s Mohenjo Daro was a disaster at the box-office making barely Rs50 crore in the domestic market. Akshay Kumar’s Rustom stole the show, garnering over Rs120 crore. Despite its poor appeal, Roshan’s Mohenjo Daro would have gained had it averted a box-office clash.

Despite the poor showing by Mohenjo Daro, Roshan’s next Kaabil will be clashing with Shah Rukh Khan's Raees on Republic Day in 2017.

With gen-next actors entering the battlefield, the scramble for release dates, especially festivals, is expected to get more intense.

Given the history of box-office clashes, certain filmmakers are making the bold move of announcing their film release dates well in advance. In a bizarre turn of events, Christmas releases for 2017 and 2018 have been disclosed even before the shooting has commenced.

Recently, Shah Rukh Khan revealed on social media that his film with Aanand L Rai will release on Christmas 2018. Remarkably, while promoting Happy Bhag Jayegi, Rai had said that he was still to complete his script. Shah Rukh is expected to begin work on Rai’s untitled project next year after he winds up shooting for Imtiaz Ali’s The Ring.

One understands Shah Rukh's decision to book a date two years in advance, after the trouble he’s facing with the release of Raees. King Khan played it wise by averting an Eid clash with Salman Khan’s Sultan this year, but has been left jostling for a suitable release date this year. Ultimately, Khan and his fellow producers Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar (Excel Entertainment) pushed it to 26 January 2017, where it will clash with Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil. Khan’s courteous requests to Rakesh Roshan have yielded no result. Not wanting a repeat of the situation, Shah Rukh has played it safe by picking Christmas 2018 for the untitled film with Rai.

In a similar move, Salman Khan has booked Christmas 2017 for Tiger Zinda Hai, the sequel to his 2012 blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger. It must be recalled that Raju Hirani had long evinced interest in releasing his Sanjay Dutt biopic, starring Ranbir Kapoor, on 25 December 2017. However, with Salman having locked the date now, Hirani wouldn’t want to risk his ambitious project.

The remaining Khan, Aamir has booked Christmas 2016 for his wrestling based film Dangal. In keeping with his usual practice, Aamir got Disney India to lock Christmas 2016 a year ago.

With the superstars booking a year(s) in advance, anxiety and impatience among the fans are at an all-time high. Next three Christmases will see Santa Claus pulling out big goodies from the Khan bags.