Friday January 10 is a red-letter day for the Hindi film industry. Three major Hindi films –Meghna Gulzar’s eagerly awaited real-life biopic Chhapaak, Ajay Devgan’s historical Tanhaji and the out-and out escapist Rajinikanth entertainer Darbar where director A R Murugadoss directs the Thalaiva for the first time, are all going to hit the theatres simultaneously.
In addition there is the new Mahesh Babu starrer Sarileru Neekevvaru in Telugu capturing the Andhra/Telangana market. Luckily for the Bollywood boxoffice Sarileru Neekevvaru is not dubbed in Hindi.
So what are the prospects of these potential blockbusters? And would the clash prove unhealthy at the boxoffice?
Trade pundit Amod Mehra feels Ajay Devgan’s Tanhaji won’t be affected by Chhapaak. “Chhapaak is basically a multiplex film. So it’d be a limited screen release. It won’t be a competition for Tanhaji. Tanhaji is an out-and-out commercial film. As it is in 3D it would be the first choice of exhibitors. Darbar is a regional film dubbed in Hindi. Moreover Rajinikanth’s last few films have not done well in North.So Darbar may have some appeal for single screens in B and C centres .
Says trade analyst Girish Johar, “Tanhaji is the first big-ticket release of 2020 led by Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan. It is mounted on a lavish scale. The production values are extraordinary and this one is looking huge at the boxoffice. Meanwhile, we also have Chhapaak toplined by the heart-throb of the nation Deepika Padukone back after two years.Directed by the immensely talented Meghna Gulzar. It is based on a true story and is an issue-based real life drama. While Tanhaji will be a wide release they are also targeting the 3D screens as an additional revenue earner , as the makers what to show their lavish sets on the large screen and 3D format.”
Girish feels Chhapaak would have a relatively small release. “Chhapaak should be a limited metro-centric film as it would rely heavily on its strong word-of-mouth and critics’ feedback.It will be the audiences’ second choice to start with and if well-made and duly appreciated by its audiences, it will surely have a long and winning run at the BO.”
Girish feels Rajinikant is relatively less appealing in the North. “For the Hindi audiences, Darbar will be the third option of the week.But down South it will be leading all films by a huge market. Rajni Sir has a huge stronghold down South.It will also be strong overseas and so technically the Hindi boxoffice will be an additional bonus for its makers, as its craze is humongous amongst its targeted fans.”
Opines trade insider Atul Mohan: “Very exciting and very interesting clash, this clash is going to kickstart 2020.All three films are important. The South is virtually captured by the Rajini wave and Reliance is targeting around 1500 screens for the Hindi belt. With around 1500 screens available in India to exploit films, it will be interesting to see how Tanhaji and Chhapaak will manage to get maximum screens in their kitty. Also , let’s not forget Good Newzz is having fantastic run at the BO and will manage to get good screens and showcasing in its third week also.”
Atul feels the Indian boxoffice cannot undermine the ‘Mahesh Babu’ magic. “ An important thing to notice also is that Mahesh Babu is also arriving with his next and Dhanush also in Telugu and Tamil belt , respectively. So down South, Hindi releases will be given a scattered release. Now coming back to Tanhaji and Chhapaak , the two films are important for Ajay and Deepika. Deepika is coming back after long time, riding on a strong woman-centric subject and Ajay Devgn with his most ambitious outing to date.Tanhaji is also releasing in Marathi ,so it will also manage to get good screens in Maharashtra with Hindi plus Marathi.”