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Weekend wars: Bollywood films clashing over festive weekends

With 'Peekay' and 'Bombay Velvet' releasing on Christmas, we look at filmmakers who won't mind clashing with other films to make the most of a festive or an extended weekend

Bollywood and festivals seem to go hand in hand. More often than not, production houses want to slot their film releases during festivals or on long weekends. The most popular release dates fall on Eid, Diwali and Christmas. All three festivals make for an extended holiday season and thus promise higher box office revenue.

Anurag Kashyap and Aamir Khan
Director Anurag Kashyap’s 'Bombay Velvet' is slated to release this Christmas. It will clash with Aamir Khan’s 'Peekay'

But the catch here is the fact that producers are not too keen at the thought of other films trying to cash in on the festive fever. Most want their film to be the only big release on a given day. And when this doesn't happen, the battle for more screens tends to escalate.

'Bang Bang'
Katrina Kaif stars along with Hrithik Roshan in 'Bang Bang' and is cast opposite Saif Ali Khan in 'Phantom' (below). Both films are slated to release on October 2

Trade expert Taran Adarsh says, "Yes, it is becoming an issue in the industry now that people slot release dates even before finalising their film's cast. Producers seem to be working in the reverse gear these days. We are following the Hollywood trend now. But releasing films on the same day splits up the number of screens for each film, their collections and it also creates differences between the actors and producers."

'Phantom'

Superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan are known to have their films release during festivals. Gaurav Verma, executive director —theatrical distribution, studios, Disney UTV, that is distributing the Aamir Khan starrer, P.K., says that a film's release date holds a lot of significance. "With the release date locked in, we can decide on the promotional strategies and market the film well. These days a lot of films are being made and the release date also depends on when the film gets completed. Our consumption habits have now changed, so a long weekend will you give an added advantage," he says.

However, he refuses to say anything about the clash between P.K. and Anurag Kashyap's film, Bombay Velvet. "It would be unfair for me to comment on this," he says.

Ranbir Kapoor
Ranbir Kapoor's 'Bombay Velvet' will now face competition from Aamir Khan's 'Peekay'

Vajir Singh, editor, Box Office India, points out that it all boils down to the fact that producers these days make huge investments and thus want to recover the money soon. "That's the reason why people look to release their films during a long weekend. Nowadays, everyone is working backwards and even before the cast is decided, producers lock the film's release date. Everyone wants to play safe now."

Recent tussles
It was recently reported that Kashyap is miffed with Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir Khan for deciding to release their film, 'Peekay', on Christmas day. Kashyap had zeroed in on a Christmas release for his magnum opus, 'Bombay Velvet', months in advance.

"All it would have taken is a phone call; I heard rumours about 'Peekay'. releasing on Christmas and called Raju to ask about the same. At that point, they said there had no such plans. But now when I hear about it, it hurts because I respect Raju as a filmmaker and as a person. He is a colleague and a friend and now if both films release on same day, business will be affected," he had said at a recent press conference.

Inevitable clashes
However, Ramesh Taurani, whose film, It's Entertainment, is headed for a clash with 'Singham 2', says that films releasin on the same day is not new. "It has been happening for years and will continue to happen in the future. It can't be avoided in our industry as we have only 52 weeks in a year and we make about 125 films annually. This week, for instance, has four films competing against each other. The only thing that one can put off is taking on a big production," he says. But Taurani adds that there is enough room for two big-ticket films to release during festivals such as Eid, Diwali and Christmas. "'Ghayal' and 'Dil' released on the same day and both went on to be huge hits. 'Lagaan' and 'Gadar' too released on the same day and were successful at the BO," he says.

Several big films of 2014 have already declared their release dates. Many of these films are pitted against each other; others are making the most of a long weekend. hitlist gives you the lowdown on how big films are capitalising on long weekends this year:

Film: 'Kick'
Releasing on: July 27
Occasion: Eid
Competition: None. Eid has always proved to be lucky for Salman Khan and it's known that other producers do not wish to take him on by releasing a film on the same day.

Films:' Singham 2'; It's Entertainment
Releasing on: August 15
Occasion: Independence Day
Competition: Ajay Devgn's film, 'Action Jackson', was supposed to release in the first week of August but it has now been delayed and its dates have not been announced. However, his other film, 'Singham 2', is clashing with Akshay Kumar's film, It's Entertainment.

Films: Phantom; 'Bang Bang'
Releasing on: October 2
Occasion: Gandhi Jayanti
Competition: It will be interesting to see a face-off between Phantom and Bang Bang as Katrina Kaif is the leading lady in both films. The actress seems to be caught in the middle and one wonders how she will go about promoting these films.

Film: 'Happy New Year'
Releasing on: October 23
Occasion: Diwali
Competition: Diwali has always been King Khan's day; several of his films have released during the festival of lights — be it 'Jab Tak Hain Jaan', 'Om Shanti Om' or 'Don'.

Films: 'Peekay'; 'Bombay Velvet'
Releasing on: December 25
Occasion: Christmas
Competition: The clash between these two films has been in the news for quite some time. With Aamir Khan starring in Rajkumar Hirani's 'Peekay'. and Ranbir Kapoor headlining Anurag Kashyap's 'Bombay Velvet', it remains to be seen as to who will rake in more moolah at the box office.

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