After Viacom 18 Motion Pictures voluntarily deferred the release date of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s much anticipated period drama Padmavati, the makers might have found themselves in a fix. Given the sheer volume of films that Bollywood is churning out every month, there is a paucity of release dates.
While the big budget entertainer would have enjoyed a solo release on 1 December, there is little hope of it seeing the light of the day this year. With every Friday of December packed with at least two releases (both Bollywood and Hollywood), Padmavati will not get the same positioning as it was getting originally.
Production houses are already reserving release date of their films for not only next year but also 2019, as is the case with Kabir Khan’s sports drama 83, starring Ranveer Singh in the role of former Indian cricket team captain Kapil Dev, which is slated to release on 5 April, 2019.
In 2018, the first favourable release date of Padmavati would be 12 January, the immediate Friday before Makar Sakranti. However, there is low probability that the makers would be able to ensure a smooth release, given the current state of protests against its release.
Also, the film is yet to be certified by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) which recently imposed the rule that the makers must submit their film for certification 68 days in advance of their expected release date. Besides, even if Padmavati affords to book 12 January as its release date, it will clash with Vikram Bhatt’s horror film 1921, starring Zareen Khan and Karan Kundra.
The next potential big release date is 26 January, the Republic Day weekend. Since S Shankar’s science fiction entertainer 2.0 has reportedly been postponed, it would have been a good window for Bhansali. However, Akshay Kumar and Neeraj Pandey pulled their releases, R Balki’s Padman and Sidharth Malhotra starrer Aiyaary, ahead to 26 January. Given Kumar’s pan-Indian popularity and the patriotic flavour of Pandey’s film, Bhansali’s historical will have a tough time holding its own at the box office.
In February, one good window that Bhansali could capitalise on is the Valentine’s Day weekend. But since the occasion falls in the middle of the week, he would have to choose between 9 or 16 February. While he will have Anushka Sharma starrer Pari and Luv Ranjan’s romantic comedy Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety to contend with on the former, the latter will pit his film against Fifty Shades Darker, almost a fool-proof hit on V-Day.
Our pick, however, is the first Friday of March, as 2 March coincides with Holi. Given the wide spectrum that Bhansali splashes on his 70mm canvas, Holi seems to be the perfect release occasion for Padmavati. Also, so far, there is no other release scheduled for 2 March.
The next suitable release date for Padmavati would be the Good Friday weekend. A 30 March release could provide just the right push that it needs but in that case, it would also have to compete with yet another long awaited film in Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanjay Dutt biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor.
Since Wikipedia has already frozen 6 April as Padmavati‘s release date, let us figure out how that scenario would turn out, if indeed the film releases on that day. Its box office dominance is likely to get diluted since the effect of Dutt is expected to spill into the second week. But Padmavati could hold its ground on the basis of merit and secure a decent opening, if it releases a week after Hirani’s film.
The only other profitable release window for the film in the span of the next six months would be any Friday of May, as the summer vacation kicks off that month. But the only date available in May is the first Friday. Meghna Gulzar’s espionage thriller Raazi (starring Alia Bhatt), Shashanka Ghosh’s Veere Di Wedding (starring Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sonam Kapoor) and Vikramaditya Motwane’s tentatively titled Bhavesh Joshi (starring Harshvardhan Kapoor) have already booked their release dates for 11, 18 and 25 May respectively.
But if Padmavati releases on 4 May, which is when the vacation is right around the corner, it will face competition from Ahmed Khan’s action drama Baaghi 2, starring Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani. However, the toughest challenge that Padmavati faces is to avoid repeated delays, sustain the buzz and deliver what the fans expect out of a typical Bhansali potboiler that kept them waiting for so long.