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India's Day 1 appetite is now over Rs50 crore: Satyamev Jayate distributor Anand Pandit on clash with Gold

Producer-distributor Pandit, who owns the theatrical rights to Satyamev Jayate, says the increase in number of screens in the past few years has ensured that two big films can be released together.

Suparna Thombare

Two films tailormade for an Independence Day release will hit the theatres on Wednesday, 15 August — John Abraham and Manoj Bajpayee's Satyameva Jayate and Akshay Kumar's Gold. Both are looking to cash in on the holiday release date with their patriotic themes.

While Milap Zaveri's Satyameva Jayate tackles the evergreen topic of corruption with a patriotic vigilante at the centre, Gold, directed by Reema Kagti, is a period film that combines sports, the freedom struggle and the pride of a newly independent country.

But Anand Pandit, who owns the domestic theatrical rights to Satyameva Jayate, is not apprehensive about the two films coming out on the same day. "I feel that our market has matured now with many more screens being added in the past two years," Pandit told Cinestaan.com. "First-day appetite has increased from Rs30-35 crore to Rs50-60 crore. So I don’t have any apprehension as far as the economics is concerned."

Pandit, who is also producing the forthcoming Ajay Devgn-Madhuri Dixit-Anil Kapoor comedy Total Dhamaal (2018), said two big films can be released on the same day and together do up to Rs60 crore business.

"Secondly, if two good films are being released, they complement each other rather than competing with each other," he argued. "Because some people may be fans of Akshay, some may be fans of patriotic films like ours. People can choose depending on liking. Ultimately, content is king. If content is good, whether you have competition or not, people will come and watch."

Anand Pandit

Pandit could well be right. While Akshay Kumar is the bigger star at the box office, recent trends have shown that the audience is increasingly looking at the content, not the lead actor. The rejection of Salman Khan's Race 3 (2018) is proof.

"Earlier, there were trends that only a certain kind of film [would work]," said the producer of Great Grand Masti (2016) and Sarkar 3 (2017). "But now any good content, whichever genre it may be, will work. Golmaal and Raazi both can work. If it's good content, irrespective of who the stars are, who the producer or director is, it will work."

With a budget of around Rs40 crore (including promotion and advertising), the makers of Satyameva Jayate are looking at releasing the film on about 2,200 screens. The budget of Gold is more than double that of Satyamev Jayate, at around Rs90 crore, and so the Akshay Kumar-starrer will have a lot more ground to cover.

Zaveri's film is a massy vigilante thriller with corruption at its centre. The catch is that except for his last film Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran (with a domestic collection of around Rs65 crore), John Abraham hasn't had a great run at the box office in recent times. Force 2 (2016) and Rocky Handsome (2016) were flops, while Dishoom (2016), with Varun Dhawan, managed average business.

But the all-India distributor for Satyameva Jayate trusts John's films to do well whenever he is personally involved in the making.

"Whenever John has acted just as an actor to take the fee, he has restrictions," Pandit said. "Whenever he has a say in the film’s making, whether it is Parmanu (2018) or Madras Cafe (2013) or Vicky Donor (2012), these are brilliant films. So I would say Satyameva Jayate is a John Abraham film. Though he isn't much involved financially. I was really happy with that because he was involved at every stage."

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