{ Page-Title / Story-Title }


Shah Rukh's Raees v/s Hrithik's Kaabil: Trade experts predict box-office outcome 

Trade experts speak exclusively with Cinestaan.com regarding the much talked about clash between Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan. 

Keyur Seta

The release of Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees and Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil will be the first big box-office clash of 2017. This is the second time that the two actors would be pitted against each other. The first was as long as 17 years ago when Mohabbatein and Mission Kashmir released together. It was Khan who emerged the winner on that occasion. 

Although the buzz is leaning towards Raees, only time will tell who emerges victorious this time or whether it would be a drawn match. But there are two unique factors about this particular clash. 

Firstly, both actors are going through a rough patch. Khan's last two films — Dilwale (2015) and Fan (2016) — failed to set the box-office on fire. On the other hand, Roshan too is facing a similar crisis. He hasn’t delivered a hit after Krrish 3 (2013). Bang Bang (2014) turned out to do average business, while Mohenjo Daro (2016) turned out to be a debacle. 

Under normal circumstances, at least one of the two main actors rides high on a hit during every clash. But this is a rare occurrence of both stars badly being in need of a hit. 

The second factor being the surprising decision of releasing their films on a Wednesday (25 January). 26 January is a national holiday as it is Republic Day. But the day before and the day after are working days. 

Trade analyst Amod Mehra terms the decision as ‘suicidal.’ "Everybody knows the clash shouldn’t have happened. A lot of people including the media made them realise but they are still going ahead. And nobody knows why these films are being released on Wednesday, which is a working day. If a film releases mid-week, its collections are never encouraging, unless it’s a Diwali vacation or Christmas holidays. Otherwise, there is no reason to release on a Wednesday. It’s a suicidal strategy,” he said. 

Amul Mohan, a young trade analyst, has a different take on the release strategy. "I think they are releasing on Wednesday because it’s a holiday on Thursday, so people would start hitting theatres from the first day evening itself, after finishing off their work. The films have Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan, so people are always going to be excited. I think it’s a good strategy. How it pans out will be known only on Wednesday."

Mehra is certainly not expecting any fireworks at the box-office initially, "I don’t think any of the two films will open very well, contrary to what makers of both films are expecting. The opening will be average; not extra-ordinary. The buzz isn’t so strong that people would be eager to catch it on the first day itself," he added. 

He does feel that the collections would rise on Republic Day, but doesn’t see much hope the following day if any of the two films fail to impress. “Both films will do bumper business on that day. Raees has an edge as it’s more massy. Even if a film is weak, its collections go high on such days. However, if any of the two films doesn’t get a positive word-of-mouth on the first day, its benefit on January 26 is doubtful and more so the next day and the weekend. Plus, I doubt if any of the two films are family entertainers. One is the story of a bootlegger and another is about a blind man who takes revenge. Having said that, if a film turns out to be good, it will work.” 

When asked about the pre-release buzz, Mohan said, “I think the buzz is strong for both films. Raees looks more commercial. Khan hasn’t done a film with action and dialogue baazi since long. Roshan too has not done a contemporary action film in quite some time. His last, Mohenjo Daro was a period film. But Raees does have slightly a better edge. There is a lot of excitement in trade for both.” 

Both actors, Khan and Roshan, haven’t delivered a proper hit in a long time. So, is this a do-or-die situation for both? Mohan doesn’t feel so. “Never can it be a do-or-die situation for Shah Rukh and Hrithik. They are India’s premier most actors and have a tremendous following. Their reach is unparalleled. When a star so big comes out with a film, people always sit up and take notice. A film or two might not do well, but it doesn’t matter much. It matters only for some time. That’s the benefit of being a superstar.” 

However, Mehra feels the opposite. “Yes, it is a do-or-die situation for both. That’s why they shouldn’t have released their films together,” he said. 

There are reports about Raees getting more theatres than Kaabil due to an interesting strategy. A source close to the industry informed us, “The makers of Raees gave the distribution rights to Anil Thadani through his close friend Karan Johar. Johar is distributing Baahubali: The Conclusion. So, the theatres are compelled to give more screens to Raees if they want Baahubali 2 when it releases.”