Release delay takes Padmavati out of contention in 2017

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It’s just striking people, that with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati pushed to 2018, the filmmaker will be missing all the major Bollywood awards this year.

Trade sources say had the film come out on December 1, Padmavati would most certainly have been the highest grosser of 2017. Additionally, it would have swept all the awards. As his 2015 blockbuster Bajirao Mastani had done. And Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela did in 2013. But that’s not going to be the case.

Pressures from religious bodies and political parties did Bhansali in. And now Padmavati will come up against a series of big ticket Bollywood films in 2018 helmed by heavyweight actors. Instead of ending a drought-like year for the film industry which was witness to a series of big Bollywood flops like Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Harry Met Sejal, Salman Khan’s TubelightJagga JasoosRangoonIttefaq, Raabta, A Gentleman, Bhoomi, Sarkar 3, Simran, Haseena Parkar and many others.

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The biggest hit of 2017 so far has been S.S Rajamouli’s Telugu epic fantasy Baahubali 2: The Conclusion with collections of over Rs. 500 crore. Bollywood saw only one Rs. 200 crore earner, Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal Again,and many Rs.100 crore grossers including Judwaa 2, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Raees, Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Jolly LLB 2. However, the annual figures are lower than most years and the delay in Padmavati is a huge blow to the industry which was expecting Bhansali to set the cash registers ringing along with Salman Khan’s Christmas release Tiger Zinda Hai.

Bhansali’s last film Bajirao Mastani starring Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra made around Rs. 360 crore at the box-office and picked up a number of awards including seven National Awards, nine Filmfare Awards, seven Screen Awards and 13 IFFA Awards among others in a number of categories. Bhansali's direction and music, the performances of Priyanka, Ranveer and Deepika, the film’s cinematography, art direction, and costume design all came in for praise. The same was expected for Padmavati. However due to the protests and delay in the release of the film, Bhansali will miss all the awards of 2017. And the major contenders will be Akshay Kumar’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, S.S. Rajamouli’s BaahubaliBadrinath Ki Dulhania and Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar.

Next year, Padmavati will be up against National Award winner Akshay Kumar’s Padman, Raju Hirani’s Sanjay Dutt biopic, Kangana Ranaut’s Manikarnika - The Queen of JhansiThugs of Hindostan with Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif and the Shah Rukh Khan-Anand L. Rai untitled film all of which are reportedly strong on content. This puts Bhansali in a fix. On the one hand he had no competition this year and now he faces at least eight big strong contenders in 2018. Ranveer Singh, who ran away with so many awards thanks to Bajirao Mastani and plays the antagonist for the first time in Padmavati, will also face tough competition from Bollywood contemporaries. Audiences won’t be waiting to see only his killer performance. They will also be looking forward to seeing Ranbir playing Dutt, SRK acting as a dwarf and Kangana as the Rani of Jhansi.

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