Bollywood Buzz

A complicated intervern truth between MNS, SRK and Ekta Kapoor

When Raj Thackeray’s political party threatened to derail Rohit Shetty and Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Chennai Express’, it appeared to fans of Marathi cinema as though the MNS was genuinely concerned about the fate of the film ‘Duniyadari’ running to packed houses at the moment. The official line was somewhat like this: Raj was upset with Shetty and SRK’s demand for a lion’s share of screens, elbowing out ‘Duniyadari’ in the process. But the truth is somewhat more complicated.

TOI has learnt that MNS’s public stance against Chennai Express goes back to a meeting between him and Jeetendra, whose daughter Ekta Kapoor has positioned herself as a formidable adversary to Shetty and SRK. Both films (Chennai Express and Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara) had been eyeing the coveted Eid weekend slot, till Ekta bowed out of the competition. And contrary to what was circulated in the media, it was not SRK who requested Jeetendra to shift the release date.

A representation was made to the MNS by Jeetendra and Ramesh Sippy (who handles Balaji’s distribution network), requesting the party supremo to help end the impasse over the release dates. According to sources, calls went out to both the camps, but with SRK refusing to budge it was Balaji who decided to blink first.

This was confirmed by Ameya Khopkar, President, Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Karmachari Sena (Association of people in the Theatre, Film and Television industry). “Jeetendra-ji and Ramesh Sippy met us a couple of months back, requesting us to help them resolve the issue of the box-office clash.

After much discussion and deliberation, we managed to work out a strategy. Jeetendra-ji agreed to postpone his release date by a week and we ensured that his film got enough screens. He was struggling on that count.”

The MNS in the process not only succeeded in ending the so-called logjam, it also managed to win a few brownie points with Shetty, UTV and SRK (co-producers of Chennai Express), or so it thought. With the threat to the Marathi film looming large it was time for the Chennai team to return the favour. And Shetty was given the royal summons.

A source close to the developments said: “Rohit Shetty met Raj Thackeray and agreed to give up a chunk of singlescreen theatres for Duniyadari. It was just a quid pro quo.”


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