Holiday Heroes

The Last time Bollywood saw big-time bickering over the big-ticket Diwali box office was in 2007, when Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya teed off against each other amidst much controversy. The former, starring Shahrukh Khan, gathered an overwhelming share of the audience, and there the matter ended. Shahrukh Khan also stars in one of this year's big Diwali releases, which is Yash Chopra's Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Pitted against this one this year is Son of Sardaar, in which Ajay Devgn headlines as both actor and producer. Devgn was unsuccessful in getting the Competition Commission of India to accept his plea that Yash Raj Films is abusing its dominant market position to grab screens at the expense of Son of Sardaar, by means such as telling exhibitors that they would get the Salman-starrer Ek Tha Tiger only if they also gave the studio's Diwali release prominence over other films. But the Competition Appellate Tribunal has agreed to an inquiry into the matter. Awaiting the results of this inquiry, we can only underline the commonsensical conclusion of the 2007 skirmish: audiences will like what they will like. If the number of screens themselves were a predicator of box office success, last year's much-hyped Diwali release Ra.One just couldn't have bombed as bombastically as it did.

Last Christmas, David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Sony), Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin (Paramount Pictures) and Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol (also from Paramount) were just some of the big releases that did a back-to-back battle in the global market. While the Hollywood line-up for this Christmas isn't all locked up yet, it isn't likely to be any less competitive. So it's sort of silly that Bollywood has difficulty in digesting just two big releases over Diwali.

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