Both Son of Sardaar and Jab Tak Hai Jaan are releasing this week. Confrontations in Bollywood don’t get much bigger.
It’s one of those confrontations that is destined to become part of the legend and folklore of Hindi cinema.
Two mega stars who hate each other’s guts but pretend not to, slugging it out in the battlefield of the box office. Garish action and comedy vs poetry and romance. Inscrutable loner vs amiable legend. One of the industry’s most macho figures throwing down the gauntlet to two kings of romance. A beautiful, loyal woman caught unfairly in the middle. And finally, a death that changes the terms of engagement.
It really doesn’t get bigger or more dramatic than this.
Get down to mundane brass-tacks and it’s all about an issue as common-place as a film release date. When actor-producer Ajay Devgn announced that his film Son of Sardaar (SOS) would release on November 13, in the industry’s sweetest spot — the Diwali weekend — there were loud gasps. For Yash Chopra, the most powerful man in B-town, had already announced that he would release his Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JBHJ) on that very date.
Making the battle more piquant was Devgn’s wife Kajol, who owes much of her career to Yashraj Films and is extremely attached to both, the Chopras and Shah Rukh Khan, even though Devgn himself is not exactly fond of the latter.
When Yash Chopra passed away suddenly the pressure on Devgn grew. But he was intractable and filed a complaint in the Competition Commission of India, alleging that Yashraj Films was using its clout to grab a chunk of multiplex screens and deny SOS a fair chance.
Devgn is challenging the combined might of Yash Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan, armed with no more than newbie Sonakshi Sinha, an ageing Sanjay Dutt and a song called ‘Po Po’ in which Devgn, Dutt and Salman Khan scrunch their cheeks in what looks like gargling minus the water. While JBHJ has music composed by Rahman and lyrics by poet-lyricist Gulzar. Plus a theme poem by Aditya Chopra. So it’s now down to ‘Po Po’ vs poetry.
A summing up as good as any of the two films’ drastically different approaches. JBHJ is a love triangle in the Yash Chopra style that needs no elaboration. The storyline has been kept largely under wraps; all we’re told is that Katrina Kaif, a “seductress”, and Anushka Sharma, who plays a documentary film-maker, are in love with army officer Samar, played by Shah Rukh Khan. Grapevine reports have it that neither gets him in the end but nobody knows for sure.
SOS is a remake of the Telugu hit Maryada Ramanna and promises to be one of those raucous films in which everything — action and comedy, dialogue and direction — will be over-the top.
In purely commercial terms, both seem to have an equal chance. For hard-core film-goers it will be not a question of which one to see but which one to see first.
If you have to choose, let’s put it this way: If the Devgn-Chopra war were to be made into a film, which director might you like to see at the helm and which star in the lead? Have a great Diwali.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma, with Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor and Anupam Kher in cameos
Director: Yash Chopra
Son of Sardaar
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Sonakshi Sinha, Sanjay Dutt, Juhi Chawla, with Salman Khan in a special appearance
Director: Ashwini Dhir
Releases: November 13, 2012