The current battle on social media between Ajay Devgn and Karan Johar over the promotional tactics of their respective upcoming releases Shivaay and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM) is just another example to show how a lot of power politics has entered the corridors of Bollywood and is slowly but surely replacing art and creativity with commerce and media-hype.
The audience has brains. Both Shivaay and ADHM films belong to totally different genres and are not competing with each other in that respect. People have watched both the trailers and formed their opinion and probably by now even made the decision regarding which one to see first. It goes without saying that both films will get the initial rush after which word of mouth will decide the winner…or like Lagaan and Gadar (which released on the same day) both could be good films and both will do well.
However one should remember no matter how colourful or awesome the trailer and teaser may look, if content is not strong, both films will fail at the box-office. Just a few weeks back there was a clash between Hrithik Roshan’s Mohen-jo-Daro and Akshay Kumar’s Rustom. Though both trailers had huge hits on YouTube, the former turned out to be a super flop because director Ashutosh Gowarikar tried to fool the public by weaving a senseless tale around the world’s oldest civilization. When the film was released, it was ripped to shreds by historians, critics as well as the public. On the other hand Rustom managed to catch the public eye even though the makers changed the original story on which it was based and added their own ‘masala’.
Ajay Devgn has gone on record and issued an official statement on his twitter account and has alleged that Karan Johar has paid a sum of Rs 25 lakhs to KRK (Kamaal R Khan is an internet troll who enjoys a sizeable fan following on social media) to trash Shivaay and praise ADHM on twitter…!!! He has even demanded an investigation into the said incident. To support his claims he even released a recorded conversation that took place between Ajay’s associate Kumar Mangat and KRK over the phone where KRK admitted to having been paid the said amount by Karan Johar because of which he was obliged to favour Karan.
Giving importance to the tweets of someone like KRK does not show Ajay in a good light. If he is confident of his film and its content then why is he bothered about some worthless tweets by a totally unimportant person? Does he really think that the audience is going to be swayed in favour of one over the other because of such tweets???
Such kind of nonsensical fights over publicity campaigns is indeed irksome and totally uncalled for. It is their problem that both of them have decided to release their films on October 28, 2016, the much ‘sought-after’ Diwali-weekend date. If they have issues they should sort it out in a dignified manner in private without involving the public and resorting to social media. After all, no single film-maker can claim ownership of a weekend and try and squash all other releases to get their movies the best cinema halls and show timings. A competition should be healthy and devoid of cheap and underhand tactics.
It is a known fact that Karan Johar is a powerful man in the industry and will employ all the tactics of publicity at any cost for his films and will go to any lengths to get the upper hand. But that does not mean he will stoop down to this level or that he needs the help of someone like KRK to help him get positive publicity! His films have a colourful palette soaked in love, friendship and betrayal and his teaser proves beyond doubt his mastery over the emotions of the public. Further no one in Bollywood currently has the guts to go against him and voice an opinion risking their career or friendship…
Why then has Ajay gone public with the twitter allegation? Is such a phone conversation enough proof to make a case against a respected film-maker? Can a man like KRK be trusted to tell the truth? Also how come Ajay had the premonition to record the telephone conversation where KRK has admitted to the payment? Does that mean Ajay records every phone conversation he or his team member has with anyone? Frankly that sounds quite creepy…
Karan Johar on his part has chosen to remain silent claiming that it would be against his values, upbringing and dignity to comment on the episode. And even if Karan had paid the said amount is the public really bothered about it? At the end of the day all they want is entertainment (as Vidya Balan claims in The Dirty Picture!) and who provides it and through what means is not their headache.
The Big Three
All the so-called ‘superstars’ seem to have unwritten claims over the festival weekends during the year. While Aamir has cornered the ‘Christmas’ weekend, Shah Rukh Khan has reserved the ‘Diwali’ weekend and Salman Khan over the past several years prefers the ‘Eid’ weekend. Does this mean that their ‘superstar’ status is not powerful enough to pull the audience to the theaters just on the basis of their name alone? Is that why so much money is wasted in senseless promotions and reserving ‘coveted’ weekend slots?
Akshay Kumar after he donned the patriotic ‘avtar’ has cornered the ‘Republic Day’ weekend. But unlike these three Khans he does not shy away from releasing his films at any given time of the year and what more has even managed to score consistently well at the box-office.
Maybe it is time all producers, directors and actors realized that they cannot fool the public any longer. All their manipulative gimmicks can be seen through as also their fights and arguments to make multiplex owners forcibly release their films in all the shows. All this reeks of unprofessional conduct and puts the not-so powerful film-makers at a disadvantage for no fault of their own.
Moreover the ticket prices are hiked exorbitantly putting the average cine-goer in a quandary if he decides to take the entire family to see the movie over the first weekend, making a dent in his pocket. After earning so much it is not as if these stars are bothered to set aside even 1% of their earning in refurbishing the conditions of a few of the single-screen cinema halls in the cities, some of which are in a pathetic condition. Instead most of our stars prefer to either host special screenings for the industry people and colleagues in multiplexes or have private screenings at their residence.
Is so much promotion necessary?
When there are 52 weeks in a year why must they choose the same weekend for their films? Recently a simple film titled Happy Bhag Jayegi which released without much fanfare and did not have any starry names in the cast managed to do really well because of good content, excellent comedy and good performances from the entire cast.
Which brings us to the question of whether such mad campaigning is really necessary before the release of any film? The stars of upcoming releases are featured in all reality shows whether it is a comedy show, quiz show, dance show, singing show, or for that matter any kind of talent show, thriller series like CID and even before cricket matches… Such complete take-over of television screen-time for the publicity of new films is totally unnecessary and very exasperating.
If only Hrithik Roshan and Ashutosh Gowarikar had concentrated on the final product of their film Mohen-Jo-Daro before trying to start their publicity campaign, it would have made them realize the kind of nonsense they were trying to palm off in the film!
Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt tried to take away all the focus from the contestants of the finale of a Dance reality show and garner all the attention on themselves before the release of their film Shandaar. The film however turned out to be big zero!
Currently Siddharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif are making utter fools of themselves with their crazy publicity for their upcoming ‘Baar Baar Dekho’. They have gone to every possible college and even danced in railway stations. Isn’t Katrina looking too old for the kind of chirpy teenager-image she is trying to project in the campaigns?
A few previous clashes
The mounting pressure of entering the ‘Rs 100-crore’ club is ruining the image and reputation of our industry in more ways than we can imagine. There are ugly fights in public and negative vibes are generated which are doing nothing but tarnishing the image of this 100-year old industry. When Saawariya and Om Shanti Om clashed at the box-office, the directors Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Farah Khan stopped talking to each other. When Son Of Sardar and Jab Tak Hai Jaan clashed there was animosity towards Ajay Devgn from the Yash Raj camp, so much so that they did not even invite Kajol for the premiere of JTHJ when all the other leading ladies of the Yash Raj camp were invited. This in spite of the fact that Kajol gave them their biggest hit- Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge!
Such kind of pettiness spoils working relationships of all the people involved and makes it difficult for the insiders also to take sides. And now with this fight maybe Kajol’s relationship with her long-standing friend Karan Johar could be at stake.
For now we will have to wait and watch how the current drama unfolds…