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Mohenjo Daro and Rustom battle it out for screens at the box-office

By Manishaa R

Post Dishoom, the entire exhibition trade is now gearing up for the formidable clash of the two big released on August 12 in the Independence Day week- the Hrithik starrer Mohenjo Daro and the Akshay Kumar starrer, Rustom. While the two films are way apart from each other, the big question is whether the aggressive marketing strategy and the chain of theatres will play a decisive role in their ability to capture the box-office. The makers of the epic adventure romance, Mohenjo Daro, Disney-UTV are apparently leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that the film gets the widest release possible in more than 2500 screens, in keeping with its huge budget reportedly in the range of Rs 125 crores. According to sources, Disney has signed and sealed agreements with leading exhibition chains like Carnival and PVR, besides single screen exhibitors to ensure that the film gets the widest possible release. On the other hand, Nittin Keni, Zee-Essel Vision Studios, CEO and producer of Rustom, reveals that they are planning an equally big release in more than 2000 screens. Nittin avers that it is not so much about the screens as the number of shows and timings. “In any case, exhibitors are reluctant to give all the important shows to one film just in case it does not perform to expectations,” he says. According to him, it would be the content and audience appeal that would finally score at the box-office, “When Dilwale was released against Bajirao Mastani, there was huge anticipation for the SRK starrer, but it was Bajirao Mastani which took the cake at the box-office. Everything depends on content and I know that my content is very strong,” he says.

There was news at one stage that Nittin Keni was in talks with Ashutosh Gowariker, to reconsider negotiating the release dates to avert the big clash but both parties seemed to be adamant about their stand. “As of now, the fact remains that Rustom is essentially an Independence Day release and we are going ahead with it full-fledged.”

Interestingly this is not just the clash of two big stars; it is also the clash of the respective makers. Way back on 15th June, 2001, Nittin Keni’s Gaddar-Ek Prem Kahani and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan were pitted against each other and both took the box-office by storm.  “15 years I would like it if both of us succeed once again in re-writing history at the box-office,” smiles Keni. Nitin Datar, Exhibitor and President of COEAI (Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India), has the last word, “It is true that the Mohenjo Daro makers producers have already signed deals with multiplex chains and single screens in keeping with their marketing plan. However we will have to wait and watch in the coming few days how both distributors officially work out their respective shows. Finally it will be the merit of the two films and how far they succeed in capturing the imagination of the audiences that will work at the box-office,” he quips.