Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period epic Bajirao Mastani and Rohit Shetty’s romantic comedy Dilwale will go head-to-head on December 18, and the Hindi movie trade is already making bets about which of the heavyweights will win the bout. So far, the odds are stacked in favour of Dilwale, proving yet again that Shah Rukh Khan is not only an A-list actor, but an ace producer with marketing acumen that would be the envy of most business-school grads.
Bajirao Mastani stars Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. Dilwale features Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon. Khan has co-produced Dilwale, while Bhansali has put his own money into Bajirao Mastani. The fight goes beyond business: it’s for territory, reputation and validation, and it’s as personal and bloody as it gets.
Bajirao Mastani and co-producer Eros Entertainment easily won the first round by releasing the official movie trailer several weeks ago. The trailer tracked well on the internet, and its sumptuous production design, grand costumes, and period detail won praise and curiosity.
Dilwale’s teasers are not yet out, but Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment company has done one better: the banner has attached the trailer to Sooraj Barjatya’s upcoming magnum opus, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. This means that the lakhs of Indians and non-resident Indians who will dutifully file into cinemas on November 12 to watch Salman Khan in a double role will be treated with a glimpse of Shah Rukh Khan for free.
In another audacious act of piggybacking, Khan and Co have marketed one of Dilwale’s selling points – the pairing of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol – by hitching their fortunes to one of the screen couple’s best-loved movies. The release of a documentary on the making of Aditya Chopra’s monster hit Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge only serves to remind viewers of the unmatched chemistry between Khan and Kajol. How better to watch the sparks fly again than by purchasing a ticket for Dilwale?
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was released in 1995. Aditya Chopra used the occasion to promote the launch of his upcoming movie, Befikre, which is scheduled to be released next year, but it’s Khan’s home production that will benefit in the short term.
Red Chillies Entertainment has taken its battle against Bajirao Mastani to the all-important community of trade analysts, distributors and exhibitors, which decides how movies are showcased in cinemas. By showing Dilwale’s trailer and songs to a select group of important opinion makers from the community, Dilwale is clearly stacking up more points in its favour. Over now to Bajirao Mastani.