Clash of the titans: Dilwale Vs Bajirao Mastani

Please note this is in no way our attempt to influence opinion or say which film will prove better, nor predict their commercial success in any wayIt is this writer’s opinion, no one has a right to comment, protest, or otherwise sway opinion on a movie until they themselves have seen it.  Also note that there are no spoilers ahead as our intent is in no way to minimise the cinematic experience, but if anything, enhance it. 


This is merely our attempt to lay out all the known information about both films, examine how they have been presented,  and what we might expect from them,  so people can make an informed opinion as to which film they would choose to see.


December 18th will witness what is probably the biggest clash of 2015 at cinema screens across the country, between Rohit Shetty’s commercial mammoth Dilwale, and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s epic period drama Bajirao Mastani.


This clash at the box office is curious purely because typically we see very small films in cinemas at the same time as a mass entertainer such as Dilwale. The result, more often than not, is you would see the small film be completely overshadowed, as much as people love an underdog. What is interesting here is both films are very much mainstream Hindi films, which makes the choice all the more interesting.


The media and trade analysts are all buzzing about who will reign supreme and attract the largest audiences and who multiplexes and cinema screens will favour. As well as which film people will choose to watch, and ultimately enjoy more. On a personal note I can say that I will be watching both films, and not only because it is my job, but also because they are both undeniably massive movies in their own way. I consider them both to be unmissable films, albeit for very different reasons.  So if it really is about choice at this stage, before any reviews or opinions come out, I advocate watching both.  And isn’t what you really look for as an avid cinegoer? Having a choice of genres and content?


Starting with immense commercial entity that is Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale , let us examine what we know about the Shah Rukh Khan starrer. There is nothing about this film that doesn’t scream commercial entertainer, in genre, style and scale. Taking a closer look at the various pieces that make up this blockbuster in waiting, in no particular order, we start with director Rohit Shetty. One of the kings of commercial cinema and the ‘paisa vasool’ entertainers, his personal style of movie incorporates a variety of genres all in one film, and promise large doses of comedy, romance, drama, large action sequences, and a lot of explosions. His previous films have proven to be largely 2 hour long, loud experience rather than a gripping story that really stays with you for any reason, with the arguable exemption of his earlier work such as Golmaal. Add to that the mega-stardom of Shah Rukh Khan, who has made a big move towards the commercial space in the last few years with films like Happy New Year, and Chennai Express, also directed by Rohit Shetty. Then we have the return of the much loved Kajol on our screens after many years, and more so the return of the most loved on screen jodi, SRK and Kajol. This will also pull in a large audience, in the form of the dedicated fan base this DDLJ duo have amassed. Then add in a star cast which includes Varun Dhawan, Kriti Senon in leading roles as well as Johnny Lever, Varun Sharma, Boman Irani and knowing Rohit Shetty a healthy helping of other well-known actors.


Then we have Bajirao Mastani, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s much talked about magnum opus. This is a story the acclaimed director has been famously carrying around and indeed talking about for many years now. Touted as the director’s biggest film yet, there are strong expectations from this epic period drama. The movie is based on the tale of Marahta warrior Bajirao and his wives Kashibai and Mastani. Bhansali’s films are known for their grand style, strong performances and high production values. His movies aren’t typically the most feel good tales, yet his calibre as a visual story teller cannot be denied. Add to the mix the strong cast of Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra and the reigning queen Deepika Padukone and it makes for a compelling tale. We previously saw these very same actors in Bhansali’s previous outing, Ram Leela which was a commercial and critical success. In Bajirao Mastani he seems to have moved to a truly epic scale, with lavish set designs and large war scenes.


Both films are huge in their own way, Dilwale in its director, cast and clear aim to appeal to all audiences, whatever the cost. Bajirao Mastani, is similarly massive in it’s visuals, epic scale and just how long Bhansali has been nursing this tale.


What we hope to see different in Shetty’s film is more focus on story and something more than a 2 hour experience, something we are grateful for watching and we will remember, which his recent films have not provided. Dilwale sees him exploring a love story at the core here which is new territory for the director.  The fact that it will attract crowds in the masses is undeniable, given it’s ‘massy’ nature, which will attract those who flock towards star power. Whereas Bajirao will attract the cinemagoers looking to for something memorable, epic and engaging, in truly Bhansali style. This is in no way our prediction, yet merely what audiences expect from both films.


That DIlwale will dominate box office is of no debate here, as you can expect words like ‘hundred crores’, ‘broken all box office records’ ‘highest opening’ flying around everywhere.


What we would ultimately hope for is, given that Shetty Is not known for strong stories or engaging content, is a film that viewers will be thankful for watching. If millions will certainly flock to watch your movie; you might as well have them be grateful for it.


For Bajirao Mastani, the ultimate hope is it lives up to expectations and Bhansali delivers on his grand vision and makes what is his biggest and hopefully best film till date. With a stellar cast all known for their strong performances, together with a grand historic tale, the hope is it lives up to this. More than that we hope that if it does live up to the quality of his vision, then we hope it is given the appropriate respect by the audiences and is get a voice at the box office and receives the attention it deserves.


The ideal outcome in my opinion is both films prove to be engaging and entertaining in their own way, and the consensus is that audiences can’t afford to miss either. There is no winner or loser as such that  we should be rooting for, but instead as an audience we just hope to be entertained and watch two great films.


Whatever happens, it can’t be ignore that it’s going to be a great weekend at the movies, a least in terms of choice. We hope it similarly holds up in terms of quality and both these movies do justice to what has been a truly stellar year of cinema.

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