And the winner is…

The clash at the box office is back with two biggies — Rustom and Mohenjo Daro — releasing next week. Sangeeta Yadav talks to multiplex owners, trade analysts and movie critics to talk about which movie will be the winner
rustom vs mohenjo daro
It’s Akshay Kumar vs Hrithik Roshan. Crime thriller vs historical drama. Small budget vs big budget movie. Tinu Suresh Desai vs Ashutosh Gowariker. Zee Studio vs Disney. It’s going to be a maha mukaabla at the box office next week with the much-awaited Rustom and Mohenjo Daro set to release and take you back in time.

Whereas Rustom will reopen the 1959 Nanavati crime case where naval officer Kawas Maneckshaw Nanavati (played by Akshay Kumar) was sentenced for the murder of his wife’s boyfriend Prem Ahuja (Arjan Bajwa), Mohenjo Daro will dig into the epic love story set in the Indus Valley Civilization between Sarman (played by Hrithik Roshan) and Chaani (debutant Pooja Hegde).

For the first time, the movie buffs will get to see the clash between khiladi Akshay Kumar, known for giving successful action thrillers like Special 26, Baby etc, and Hrithik Roshan, who is still remembered as Akbar of Jodha Akbar.

“The clash is not new to the industry. In 1974, Roti, Roti Kapda aur Makaan and Benaam released on the same day and all were a hit at the box office. We have seen Lagaan and Gadar…Ek Prem Katha releasing on the same day. Or Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani. The better film has always clicked with the audience. Since both have superstars, it has generated equal craze in the audience,” trade Analyst Komal Nahata says.

Audience will get to see great cinema but picking the best may be a tough choice.

“After the Dilwale andBajirao Mastani clash last year, the audience have made one thing clear — they know how to choose. Where Rustom will steal the game for suiting the occasion of patriotism, the X-factors for Mohenjo Daroare that it is historical and has Hrithik Roshan. Akshay Kumar has been setting the trend of celebrating Independence Day with a major release, and it’s working for him. Sunny Deol’s spot is now Akshay’s. Airlift proved it and now with Rustom, his manjha is strong and Rustom will fly above Mohenjo Daro. Not that Mohenjo Daro will sink, but it will taste success late. Their impact on other movies releasing on same date will remain for the next 10 days,” movie critic Raghav Bhatia tells you.

Rustom has an upper hand, getting great response for its trailer and music. But  Mohenjo Daro is the film where one will see Hrithik Roshan after two years and it will showcase the Indus Valley through  VFX effects to the tune of a `100 crore budget.

“One of the explosive weekends of 2016 is sure to set monies raining on the box office. Both films look promising and have A-list stars. Akshay, who has already delivered two back-to-back hits this year — Airlift and Houseful 3, looks close with a hattrick with Rustom. On the other hand, you have Hrithik Roshan after a long gap and with a loyal fan following. There is a lot of enquiry about both the films at the box office already. Cinemas will cash in on the marketing being done by both films to take a big opening over a three-day weekend,” Devang Sampat, director-strategic initiatives, Cinépolis India, tells you.

It will be interesting to see which one will appeal to the audiences and get the maximum footfall, especially at the time of long weekend — Independence Day, Parsi New Year and Raksha Bandhan.

“It is difficult to say which film has a lot more chance to attract the viewers on day one as both of them are unique, be it genre, music or picturisation. The one with the most appeal will win the race. Looking at the fact that it’s a long weekend with festivals, people will shell out more money and go with families and friends,” Nahata says.

The good part is that the clash between Rustom and Mohenjo Daro appears to be a healthy one.

“One of the things which really deserves an appreciation is that the two aren’t getting into an ugly battle. Like when Dilwale-Bajirao clash happened, social media gave so much support to Bajirao even before the release that people went and saw Bajirao Mastani. The result was for all to see. When Son of Sardar- Jab Tak Hai Jaan clash happened, Ajay Devgn had to move to court to get screen space for his movie. But here things are clean,” Bhatia says.

The makers of Rustom and Mohenjo Daro didn’t bother about their big clash.

“I feel it’s not good to release two big films on the same day. But in this case, the makers wanted to cash in on the long weekend and hence there was no option to postpone,” Nahata says.

This competition between the two is not just about getting the footfall, but maximum theatres and show time as well.

“Though it’s not the Khan clash, the monetary stakes are still high. Obviously, the makers of both films would like to get as many shows at the  multiplexes as possible. The business of both will get affected. The better film will be affected due to not having 100 per cent audience. The other will get impacted because of less footfall,” Nahata says.

Therefore, to avoid eating into each others’ business, many filmmakers, of late, shifted the release date of their movie. For instance, Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees (January 2017) for Salman Khan’s Sultan, and now Sushant Singh Rajput’s MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (September 30) for Sonakshi Sinha’s Akira (September 2).

Talking about the revenue generation, Bhatia says:

“With more multiplexes, the movies will generate more revenue. The real battle, this time, will be which one will enter the `100 crore club first. Closest competitors for these movies are Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne. Post this week, the next major release is Flying Jatt (on August 25, 2016). So Mohenjo Daro will, in all probabilty, manage to catch up as the week progresses.”

(The article also got published in the Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/and-the-winner-is.html)

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