Yesterday we told you that Ajay Devgn‘s lawyer had served Yash Raj Films a legal notice, accusing them of monopolistic practices and arm-twisting exhibitors into giving Jab Tak Hai Jaan preference over Son of Sardaar. YRF has retaliated by releasing a statement on the subject, and boy do I sense some draaaama. Check out their statement in full!
We were indeed quite surprised to receive an intimation from Ajay Devgn Films’ lawyers today saying that they had filed a complaint with the Competition Commission of India against YRF, alleging malpractice committed by us in connection with the release of JAB TAK HAI JAAN and thereby affecting the release of Son of Sardar. For a company like ours, which has maintained the highest standards of work ethics and fair play, this has really come as a shock.
We would like to clarify at the outset that we still haven’t received any notice from the Commission and will suitably represent our stance if and when called upon to do so. Worldwide, as well as in India, distributers often sign deals for their complete annual slate of films to simplify the process. We trust the Competition Commission will also see it as universally acceptable fair business practise.
As we have mentioned in the past, all the exhibitors, when approached by us earlier this year for booking their theatres, were happy to play out Yashji’s movie considering their long standing and emotional relationship and goodwill with YRF of over 40 years. A Yash Chopra/Shah Rukh Khan movie, coming after a gap of 8 long years, did not need any coercion for contractual screening. Additionally, some exhibitors, who played EK THA TIGER, have chosen not to screen JAB TAK HAI JAAN.
Interestingly, of the 10500 plus single screens available on an all-India basis, we have booked less than 1500 single screens (an industry norm for an A-lister movie), a fact that has been common knowledge for some time now. If this was an issue, why wasn’t it raised earlier? Why wait till now when both films are nearing release?
We had announced JAB TAK HAI JAAN would be a Diwali 2012 release as far back as 27th June 2011 and thereafter every press release of ours reiterated this. Given that most big ticket films avoid simultaneous releases, it was odd that Son of Sardar announced their release for the same day almost a year later on 29th May 2012. They were also able to lock their final distribution partner as late as 4th Oct 2012. It would seem odd that they would expect us to wait for our release plans to be put in place till they had finalised theirs!
It is also unfair to say that we are in any way in a dominant position. While we are releasing just three films this year, the two production houses in question, VIACOM 18 & EROS, who are distributing Son of Sardar, have a combined release strength of almost 27 films in a year.
Everyone agrees that the festive time of Diwali has space for two simultaneous releases. Give the audience a choice to choose the one they want to watch. Few of the exhibitors have already chosen, on the basis of a business decision, the one they want to exhibit.