One of the most anticipated times for Bollywood fans every year is the Diwali season. For the last few years, some of the biggest movies have gone up against each other at Diwali, with each producer trying to take advantage of the movie-going crowd during this holiday. We take a look back at the biggest and best clashes over the past few years, and try to determine whether releasing a movie at Diwali really does have its perks.
It actually took producers a while to realize that releasing their movies on Diwali would be advantageous. We start in 1999, when only one movie released on Diwali, Hum Saath Saath Hain. It turned out to be a big hit, and in the next year, 2000, we had two big movies going up against each other. Mohabbatein was Aditya Chopra’s first film after the mega success of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, and was the first movie to star Shah Rukh and Amitabh Bachchan together. Mission Kashmir released alongside Mohabbatein. It featured Hrithik Roshan, who was still riding high from the success of Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, and Sanjay Dutt. Mohabbatein ended up coming out on top, becoming a superhit, while Mission Kashmir lagged behind, but still managing a fair run.
2001 was a bit of a down year for the Diwali season, with movies like Tera Mera Saath Rahen, Deewanapan, and Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar releasing. None of the films managed to make an impact on viewers. 2002 saw more of the same, with Jeena Sirf Mere Liye, Waah Tera Kya Kehna, and Annarth releasing. All were unsuccessful except for Jeena Sirf Mere Liye, which gave both Kareena Kapoor and Tusshar Kapoor a much-needed hit. In 2003, there was a Mumbai cinema strike, and this meant a pretty bad Diwali week. Pinjar, Inteha, Raja Bhaiya and Shhh came and went without much fanfare.
2004 is when the Diwali season really picked up. Yash Chopra was back at the director’s helm with Veer Zaara, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, and Rani Mukherji. Other producers weren’t scared off though, with Aitraaz and a restored version of Mughal-e-Azam releasing on the same day. All movies ended up being successful, with Veer Zaara leading the pack.
2005 couldn’t live up to 2004’s standards, with Kyon Ki, Garam Masala and Shaadi No. 1 releasing. Garam Masala did rather well, but the other two movies didn’t fare as well.
2006 was a hyped Diwali year, pitting Shah Rukh Khan against Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar. Don came out on top, reaching superhit status, while Jaan-e-Mann was rejected by the audiences.
2007 has probably been the biggest Diwali season, due to the tremendous hype. Farah Khan released her second film Om Shanti Om which had been hyped ever since she finished her first film. It starred Shah Rukh Khan, Arjun Rampal, and Shreyas Talpade, and also featured newcomer Deepika Padukone. Sanjay Leela Bhansali was also ready with his film, Saawariya, bringing together newcomers Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor, with Salman Khan and Rani Mukherji in special roles. Words were exchanged for months between both sides, and at Diwali we finally got to see how each film would perform. Om Shanti Om ran away with it though, becoming the highest grosser of all time, while Saawariya was left in the dust.
This season will see the release of 4 films, Heroes, starring Salman Khan, Preity Zinta, and Sunny and Bobby Deol, Golmaal Returns, the sequel to the successful Golmaal, Roadside Romeo, which will be Bollywood’s first full animated film, and Fashion, Madhur Bhandarkar’s next starring Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Raunaut. All four movies look interesting, and we hope each one can take advantage of this years Diwali season.
As we’ve seen, the Diwali season can mean a lot for producers who are looking to take advantage of the extra crowds that the holiday usually brings. But in the end, content is the final sticking point. The Diwali season can give your film a good opening, but the movie must be able to stand on its own after the season has passed to be successful.