We spoke to three of them....
Bollywood has seen many clashes but nothing to the magnitude of Sultan and Raees. Two huge superstars who are both ruling at the box office, were supposed to clash. Obviously, buzz was doing the rounds of someone bowing down from the race and now we hear, it would be Shah Rukh Khan's Raees. Reports suggest the film has now been postponed to January 26 next year. So we thought of asking trade experts if it's a beneficial decision or not and this is what they said.
Trade expert, Akshay Rathi feels it certainly is a good decision. "When stakes are so high and there are cordial equations between Shah Rukh and Salman or more importantly, SRK and Aditya Chopra, it's a gracious gesture to allow each other their space. It will benefit both the film and give them maximum potential in sharing screen space." But he still felt Eid was a good time for both. "Eid is particularly an interesting period for both the film. If you notice, both of them play Muslim characters in their films. The kind of action that there is in Raees, it would have been a phenomenal date for the film had they decided to not move. Having said that, the cinema infrastructure in India to accommodate two films which are as mammoth as these with superstars who are equally big, will chip some business off each other. In ideal case scenario for optimum business it is good that both come on different national holidays. But honestly, even if both the film come together, they will do what they deserve to do."
But Trade Analyst, AMul Mohan feels Fan's box office collection has much to do with the decision. "They might be looking for a good date to release the film. It's a big film. Especially what happened with Fan now, I can understand the producers or actor Shah Rukh Khan might be a bit apprehensive. There might be deeper issues or situations too. There was a strong buzz in the first week of Fan itself that the film will get pushed. And last week it emerged very clearly that 2017 is a very possible scenario for them to go out and release the film. We don't know for sure unless the Excel announces something. One thing is a fact that Raees is definitely not releasing with Sultan because the idea is to not come out with a film like Sultan. We all know how brilliant Salman is doing right now. It's unlikely that it will release this year because all the prominent dates have already been locked.
In fact, Mohan feels it will not be a good decision to clash anyway. "It's my personal opinion that if Raees comes with Sultan, I think it is suicide. We don't have those many cinemas. We don't have 8000 screens that two big hero films on 4000 screens each could make a killing. And then it is a YRF film that they will be competing with. We know Excel is a prominent banner as well, but the point is YRF is bullish in these kind of matter and they have to be because it's a big film for them too. So it will be unfair. We are not China which has 10000 screens. It has more influence of Hollywood films than Bollywood or local films and it can all survive well. You just saw what happened to The Jungle Book and Fan. They are competing in the same screens and places. So when people have choice to go watch Shah Rukh Khan which has great word of mouth and reviews which at the same time is competing with a movie which has already proven, people love that film even though it is not in our native language. People still go and patronize that. So India doesn't have the liberty to release two big films like that," says Mohan.
He is also of the opinion that had Fan done better at the box office, things would have been the other way round. "For instance if Fan had done well to around 100-200 crores hypothetically, Sultan would have been in a fix. It could have just scared Sultan off. But given the position Fan has got itself into, you are on a backfoot. I don't know if it's a wise decision but I feel it is a right decision to make right now. When a SRK film doesn't even cross 80 cr properly, you know there is a problem. It's a very simple psychological assessment of the situation."
Another Trade expert Amod Mehra was pretty blunt about Raees' credibility. He said, "Any film which is announced and keeps on delaying loses credibility more and more. Credibility diminishes. It never improves. The more they push it, it will be more bad for them especially after Fan not working. It will give wrong signals to fans of Shah Rukh Khan, ki Shah Rukh dar gaya and as it is said in Sholay, jo dar gaya woh mar gaya. Raees is about underworld, maybe a bit of Robinhood. Now they are trying to making him that. Actually, he is not a robinhood. He is a bootlegger. When it's Eid or Diwali or Christams, you want to see happy films. You don't want to see underworld or don. Sultan will be a family film. It will have lighter moments. It will take a bigger opening, so what's the point of clashing then. See what happened to Dilwale. Bajirao Mastani didn't get squashed."
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