This article of mine appeared in http://www.clapsnslaps.com on 5th January, 2016 .Here is the link to the original article:
On December 18th 2015, two major, big-budget, star-studded films hit the cinema halls simultaneously- director Rohit Shetty’s action-romance-Dilwale starring Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sannon and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s historical romance Bajirao Mastani- starring Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone.
The makers and artistes of both films left no stone unturned to market their films and create as much hype as possible to raise the curiosity level and get that coveted record-breaking ‘first weekend collection’.
Same release date invariably leads to uncalled for but unavoidable comparisons of the films in question.
Initially, as expected the SRK-Kajol magic managed to pull in more audience to see their film ‘Dilwale’ and get better occupancy rates in the opening weekend in cinema halls as compared to Bajirao Mastani . Dilwale also had the advantage of more number of screens.
Moreover, Dilwale was marketed as a ‘family entertainer’ having a good dose of humour, romance and action, which brought in the family audience in a big way in the first weekend, while Bajirao Mastani got saddled with the title of a ‘historical’ in spite of being a love story, which might have deterred some section of the audience to make it their first choice. Maybe it sent the wrong signal that the film might be a little boring and may even be like a documentary.
But excellent word-of-mouth publicity for Bajirao Mastani and overdose of hype for Dilwale has resulted in the former overtaking the latter slowly but steadily, in terms of net domestic collection. Maybe the gap is quite insignificant as of now and there are chances that the balance may swing either way in the final analysis, but for a film which got a good head-start in the first weekend and also raced ahead to enter the 100-crore club, Dilwale collections have dropped significantly.
Though the pre-release buzz in the media had been tilted more towards Dilwale, with every passing day, it is Bajirao Mastani’s collection which is racing ahead of its more powerful counterpart. To clash with an SRK starrer is in itself a big feat but to actually emerge a winner in the clash is indeed a great accomplishment and Bajirao Mastani needs to be applauded for that.
Following is the domestic Box-office collection in crores*
Dilwale- 21 crores
Bajirao Mastani- 12.8 crores
Dilwale- 24 crores
Bajirao Mastani- 18.75 crores
Dilwale- 7.12 crores
Bajirao Mastani- 11.75 crores
Day 12: (net domestic collection)
Dilwale- Rs 123 crores
Bajirao Mastani- Rs 120 crores
Dilwale- 4 crore
Bajirao Mastani- 5.05 crores
The VERDICT is clear: Bajirao Mastani beats Dilwale (at least in the domestic market)
So what might have brought about the change?
Let us dissect Dilwale first-
The film had a senseless storyline, disinterested direction with no scope for any great ‘acting’ for any of the artistes involved, a narrative which has nothing new to offer and where songs have been added as an afterthought otherwise why would 2 out of 5 songs be dream sequences and a third one played at the end of the film when credits are being rolled out!
Coming to the story- for a film advertised so much for recreating the chemistry between SRK and Kajol from where Raj and Simran left off 20 years back, the film hardly had any romantic scenes per se, except for the 5-minute ‘date sequence’. But there also, the very next scene brings an unexpected and not very likeable revelation about her identity which makes their initial romantic interlude look a farce and shows Kajol in an evil light…so what is the chemistry we are talking about?
Why was ‘underworld ’rivalry made the backbone of the story and even if it was to be, then why was it never really explored? Also, both SRK and Kajol being part of families of powerful dons of rival gangs and that too settled in Bulgaria was so inane and ridiculous! Furthermore, it looked quite silly to have them both wanting to seek ‘permission’ to get married and getting their ‘don’ fathers to do the ritual of ‘rishta jodna’ was plain nonsense!
That the police are never shown investigating any of the innumerable killings and shootouts happening throughout the film is really strange and both SRK and Kajol are able to leave behind their ‘gangster’ past very calmly and start life anew without any hassles!!!
Both Varun and Kriti add a lot of youthfulness with their refreshing chemistry but ‘coincidentally’ happen to be the respective siblings of SRK and Kajol and now it is their turn to seek permission for marriage …so we are back to confrontation of old rival gangs and misunderstandings and clarifications and finally after some predictable encounters everything falls in place to give us a happy ending… Basically everything from romance to action and even comedy seemed half-baked and thoughtlessly put together.
Apart from the directionless plot, the other minus point of the film is Kajol’s character which is quite annoying. Her talent has not really been put to use and she on her part seems to have concentrated more on her appearance. Her 5-year hiatus seems to have removed the ‘X’ factor associated with her and now many of the younger heroines seem far more talented and versatile with the amazing variety of roles they are accepting.
Shah Rukh Khan with the beard looks sombre and dignified as the elder brother but as the younger one in the flashback scenes he is not able to whip up the old magic. Also with such an ill-written and dull role how much can he salvage when there is nothing in the film to bring in repeat audience?
How long are these two senior actors going to cling on to their DDLJ image? It was sad to see them actually mouthing their dialogue from DDLJ in the last scene! Maybe they should have just made a DDLJ 2 and told the story of what happened to Raj and Simran 20 years later…It is time SRK as the producer and actor realizes that the audience cannot be fooled for too long with his charisma alone and eventually there has to be some novelty to his roles.
Coming to Bajirao Mastani
On the other hand, there are plenty of new things to watch out for in Bajirao Mastani.
Firstly, the film takes us back in time to the eighteenth century Maratha Empire and brings to life the love-story of one of its greatest Peshwas- Peshwa Bajirao I (1700-1740), a brilliant Maratha general in the court of Chhatrapati Shahuji Raje Bhosale and is said to have won all the 41 battles he took part in. The three protagonists of the film- Peshwa and his two wives- Kashibai and Mastani have strongly etched-out characters and have a lot of scope to test their histrionics.
To get to play historical characters of 18th century and be part of such a lavishly mounted film is indeed a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity for any actor. All the artistes involved have put in tremendous amount of hard work, dedication and special preparation-both emotional and physical- to get under the skin of the character in terms of thought process, body language and dialogues apart from getting used to wearing those heavy costumes.
Ranveer Singh is the life of the film. One cannot imagine any other actor who could have played the character with such confidence and panache. His stylish swagger, his dialogue delivery with a noticeable Marathi accent, his robust dance steps, his action scenes, his style of romance and the last scene when he fights his imaginary demons… indeed he owns every frame of the film.
Deepika not only looks stunning and dances like a dream but she also gets to mouth some of the best Urdu dialogues this generation can ever hope to hear and brings a lot of poise and dignity to her character. Priyanka is the surprise packet of the film and comes up with such a superlative performance that her character remains with us long after we walk out of the film. All the character artistes have also been given very good roles to create the desired drama and tension in the Peshwa’s life which makes the story both intriguing and interesting.
Much like the classics Mughal-e-Azam and Pakeezah, several magnificent sets- Shaniwar Wada, Mastani Mahal, Aaina Mahal, etc., have been thoughtfully designed and erected to recreate the era giving the audience a superb cinematic experience. For director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, this film is a culmination of his eleven-year old dream. One can imagine the passion and dedication that has gone into transforming his vision into celluloid. His penchant for detailing can be seen in the spectacular sets, grand battle scenes, brilliant music and magnificently choreographed dance-sequences which are a visual treat on the big screen. The colourful costumes have been designed after a lot of painstaking research and utmost care has gone into every weave and design of the fabrics in order to recreate the authenticity of the era in question.
Music in Bajirao Mastani is an integral part of the film and Sanjay Leela Bhansali who himself dons the mantle of music director comes up with an amazing variety of songs – a lavani number, a kathak dance, a victory dance, a group dance, a mesmerizing romantic number with a little bit of qawwali added, a prayer song and a song conveying the happiness of the arrival of a victorious warrior. In the current scenario when music is mostly restricted to club songs and duets picturized unimaginatively in foreign locales, this film comes as a breath of fresh air and offers a wide range of melodious songs.
Somewhere the word of mouth publicity played a significant part in spreading the good word for Bajirao Mastani and it was not long before the tables turned and people saw through the promotional gimmicks of Dilwale. After all, a well-made quality film deserves a good audience and the producers SRK and Rohit Shetty could easily have avoided the unnecessary clash by choosing another release date…
The story of ‘The Hare and The Tortoise’ could not have found a better example and the moral of the story ‘Slow and Steady Wins the Race’ aptly sums up the result of this clash…
*(Source for the box-office collections: http://dilwale-boxofficecollection.in/12th-day-collection-of-dilwale-vs-bajirao-mastani-2nd-tuesday-till-now-day-wise-total-box-office-report/