Get ready for a major Bollywood face-off this Diwali: the actor and producer Ajay Devgn’s Son of Sardaar will battle with Yash Raj Films’ Jab Tak Hai Jaan in Indian cinemas today.
While Jab Tak has been getting non-stop coverage as the last work of the Bollywood filmmaker Yash Chopra and the first on-screen pairing of Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif, Sardaar has been hogging its share of headlines for simply having the courage to go head-to-head with Chopra’s swansong.
In the lead-up to its Diwali release, the Jab Tak team has stepped up promotions of the film. Just recently, it was in Chopra’s hometown of Jalandhar – the place where he had wished to return for the film’s promotions shortly before he died. As a tribute, the film’s leading trio (Rukh Khan, Kaif and Anushka Sharma) made public appearances for their fans in the city and also inaugurated a new media course in Chopra’s name at Jalandhar’s Doaba College. Earlier in the month, the stars appeared on Zee TV’s reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, on an edition of the show dedicated to Chopra. In short, all seems on the up and up in the world of Jab Tak.
On the other hand, we have Devgn and his Son of Sardar. I'm starting to feel sorry for the chap. His film’s release doesn’t simply overlap with that of a Chopra film – it overlaps with the last Chopra one. Who wouldn’t want to see that? Devgn’s not going down without a fight, though. He filed a complaint to the Competition Commission of India alleging that Yash Raj Films used its dominant position to secure more screens for its own film, leaving next to no space for Devgn’s. Though he claims the complaint was filed long before Chopra’s death, it only came to public attention afterwards and did nothing to help Devgn’s public image.
Devgn went on the record to confirm that he meant no disrespect to the late director and is only fighting for what is right – a fair share of screen space during the Diwali season. He said he had tried to sort the matter amicably, resorting to legal action only when he had no other options left. Devgn points out that Yash Raj Films has apparently left only three screens out of 21 for him in New Delhi, and one out of six in Dadar.
Yash Raj Films says it has not partaken in any kind of manipulation and that cinema owners have simply chosen their preferred film. Furthermore, the Jab Tak release date was announced on June 27, 2011, while Devgn announced the same date for the release of his film almost a year later – in May this year.
While this blame game could go on forever, all the Bollywood fan really cares about is watching a good film. If you’re a Devgn fan, it doesn’t matter if his film is only playing in one cinema out of 30. You will go to that cinema to watch it.
The question is: on the way there, will you be able to resist the lure of the names Yash Chopra, Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif?
The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi girl living in Dubai