Christopher Nolan's 'Oppenheimer' and Greta Gerwig's 'Barbie' – two big-budget, star-studded films with contrasting themes, and both releasing on the same day! The buzz of these two films has generated a unique hashtag '#Barbenheimer'!
Conflicts between major motion pictures released on the same day have always generated curiosity and discussion in Bollywood. These clashes frequently spark interest among viewers and result in fierce competition at the box office. Let's travel down memory lane and examine some historical conflicts that had a profound influence on Bollywood.
1. Lagaan v. Gadar: A Race to Please the Masses
One of the most iconic clashes in Bollywood history was between the films 'Lagaan' and 'Gadar', both released on June 15, 2001. On one hand, Anil Sharma's epic love story is set against the backdrop of the Indian partition—a massive, but mostly safe film, especially when compared to 'Lagaan'.
Personally, I think 'Lagaan', with its runtime of over 3 and a half hours, has the best screenplay I've seen in Hindi cinema. Both films became iconic in their own ways, but at the time, 'Gadar' was the bigger hit, while 'Lagaan' went on to receive Oscar nominations. It was indeed a great time to be a cinema-goer.
2. Comedy Showdown: Phir Hera Pheri and Chup Chup Ke
‘Phir Hera Pheri' and 'Chup Chup Ke', both saw their releases on June 9, 2006, taking the box office by storm. 'Phir Hera Pheri' was the sequel to the 2000 blockbuster 'Hera Pheri', directed by Priyadarshan. However, he didn't come on board for the sequel. Instead, Neeraj Vohra, the dialogue writer of the original film, took the reigns. Priyadarshan, on the other hand, directed 'Chup Chup Ke', clashing with his own film franchise.
Both films were crazy ensemble comedies and had actors like Paresh Rawal, Suneil Shetty, and Rajpal Yadav in common. While 'Chup Chup Ke' had a more 'glamorous' leading pair with Shahid and Kareena Kapoor, 'Phir Hera Pheri' featured Raju, Shyam, and Babu Bhaiya.
Looking back, I enjoyed parts of both films, but in terms of craft, 'Chup Chup Ke' was a superior film. But that might just be the Priyadarshan fan in me talking. However, in terms of box office success, 'Phir Hera Pheri' swept the floor.
3. Clash of Sensibilities: Saawariya and Om Shanti Om
On November 9, 2007, two films were released that launched two of the biggest actors we have today: Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone with films 'Saawariya' and 'Om Shanti Om'. Both filmmakers, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and Farah Khan, were coming off blockbusters—'Black' and 'Main Hoon Na', respectively, making this clash truly astounding.
These films came from two different schools of filmmaking. 'Saawariya' channeled its inner Dostoevsky, while 'Om Shanti Om' showed us that commercial, fun, escapist cinema can still have a heart. Also, who can forget Shah Rukh's six-pack and Ranbir's towel scene?
Both films had amazing music, required some suspension of disbelief in their own ways, and had distinct visual and aesthetic tones. 'Om Shanti Om' went on to become the highest-grossing film of 2007, while 'Saawariya' struggled to make a significant impact at the box office.
4. Box Office Blockbusters: Sholay and Jai Santoshi Maa
Two films were released on the same day: Ramesh Sippy's big-budget, curry western, magnum opus 'Sholay', and a low-budget devotional film called 'Jai Santoshi Maa' directed by Vijay Sharma, which didn't feature any big names.
'Sholay', made with a budget of 3 crore rupees at the time, was a flop in the first week. In an interview, Javed Akhtar mentioned that after the first week, people had lost faith in 'Sholay'. However, he and his co-writer Salim Khan had so much belief in their film that they took out an ad in the newspapers, confidently stating that the film would succeed.
Eventually, when the film was released in different parts of the country, it became the iconic classic that it is today.
On the other hand, 'Jai Santoshi Maa', made for around 25 lakhs, became a blockbuster—although it too had a slow start. It's said that people even used to take off their shoes while watching the film and touch the actress Anita Guha, who played Santoshi Maa, when they saw her on the streets.
The film also increased the number of people worshiping Santoshi Maa throughout the country, especially in Northern India.
5. Rivalry and Hype: Mission Kashmir v. Mohabbatein
On October 27, 2000, 'Mission Kashmir' clashed with 'Mohabbatein', creating a Bollywood David v. Goliath rivalry. The clash followed the success of Hrithik Roshan's 'Kaho Na Pyaar Hai', which had propelled him to superstardom. A Pepsi advertisement depicting Shah Rukh Khan and a lookalike of Hrithik Roshan heightened the anticipation and fanned the flames of rivalry.
Moreover, 'Mohabbatein' was Aditya Chopra's second film after the genre-defining 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge'. Although both films got off to promising starts, they couldn't keep viewers' interest over time.
These conflicts mark turning points in Bollywood history and serve as examples of the wide variety of films and ideas that are offered to viewers. It is amazing that movie fans have had the chance to see such incredible fights over the years despite the tight competition.
Whether you support the genius of 'Lagaan' or the opulence of 'Gadar', the humor in 'Phir Hera Pheri' or the charm of 'Chup Chup Ke', they have irrevocably shaped Bollywood's history.
So, this week, whether you're team Oppenheimer or team Barbie, we're all Team Cinema!