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Trade experts suggest it wouldn't be wise for makers of Sanjay Dutt biopic and 'Ek Tha Tiger' sequel to release their films on the same Christmas date this year
MID-DAY (January 18, 2017)

Filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani is hoping to release his Sanjay Dutt biopic this Christmas. An insider says, "If Hirani manages to complete the film by June and decides to release it around Christmas, it will clash with Salman Khan's 'Tiger Zinda Hai' [sequel to the 2011 film, 'Ek Tha Tiger']."

A source close to Hirani says, "Christmas has been his release date for many films. He counts it lucky. Even 'pk' (2014) was a Christmas release. He will stick to the date at any cost. And those who feel it's a clash between Salman and Ranbir are merely undermining the power of Hirani."

On September 13 last year, Yash Raj Films [producers of 'Tiger Zinda Hai'] annouced in a press release, "The film is slated for a Christmas 2017 release and the shoot will start in March." When we reached out to the production house, they clarified that their date is fixed. Meanwhile, Hirani hasn't officially laid claim to the date, but in an earlier interview, he said, "We will begin shooting mid next year, roughly around June. So yeah, [the film will release] roughly around that time."

Time for wise call
Distributor-exhibitor Akshaye Rathi said, "As of now they are clashing, but one of them will move away at least by a week. They should accommodate each other so that the business of both the films is optimised." Trade analyst Taran Adarsh adds, "If they do end up clashing, it should be avoided."

Some trade pundits feel the Dutt biopic may have to shift the date as 'Tiger Zinda Hai' stars Salman. An insider, however, emphasises, "There is every chance Hirani will look for an alternate date for the release of the biopic. But since he considers the day auspicious, there is a good chance he might take up the challenge."

Star power
According to trade guru Amod Mehra, the clash could be bad news for Hirani and Ranbir. "Since there is time, I feel the clash will be avoided. But in case it happens, it's going to be suicidal for Hirani. Also Sanjay Dutt is not a cult figure that a film on him would interest everyone. I am not in favour of Salman, but I don't think it's wise to release your film on the same day as his. He has an Eid release ('Tubelight'). It will thus add to the anticipation for 'Tiger Zinda Hai'," says Mehra.

However, trade analyst Komal Nahta says it's too early to say anything. "Salman is a bigger star, but Hirani is a bigger director. One can never judge a film solely on star power anymore; today, content is king. We can only assess once the trailers release," he says.