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Win-win.
BOLLYWOOD BATTLE

The critics back Bajirao Mastani—but Dilwale is making all the money

By Shelly Walia

For Bollywood, the year is already over. On Friday (Dec. 18), the last two Hindi films of 2015 hit theatres across the country.

Clashing at the box office were Dilwale, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in leading roles, and Bajirao Mastani, an epic love story starring Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. As it stands so far, Dilwale is winning at the box office, while Bajirao Mastani has conquered the critics.

On the opening day, Dilwale earned Rs21 crore within India, while Bajirao Mastani made Rs12.8 crore at the box office. In addition, Dilwale opened with 70% occupancy compared to Bajirao Mastani’s 30%.

Dilwale’s opening day collection, however, failed to break the records set by Salman Khan’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

The business for both films was affected due to protests against their shows in various parts in India. Bajirao Mastani has been facing the heat for historical misrepresentation of Peshwa Bajirao, the 17th century Maratha ruler on whom the film is based. On the other hand, Khan’s film has faced opposition because of his recent comments on intolerance in India. Moreover, the simultaneous release resulted in the number of screens being divided.

Overall, at the end of the weekend, Dilwale collected Rs65.09 crore within India. Bajirao Mastani—which gained from word-of-mouth publicity—earned a total of Rs46.77 crore.

What the reviews say

Dilwale has been rejected by film critics, even when assessed within the ambit of Shetty’s brainless formula entertainment films.

“It is just an unappetising khichdi (hodge-podge) of action, emotion, romance and comedy,” wrote the Hindu newspaper. The Firstpost called it “Shah Rukh Khan’s worst mistake,” and the Huffington Post described the film as “a tired, factory-generated film from frame one, right from the overdone colour palette to the exaggerated, comical violence.”

Even one of the most popular on-screen pairings in Indian cinema didn’t impress.

“The deliberate attempt to repackage and sell the Kajol-SRK romance of yore backfires, seeming like a pale shadow of the magic there once was,” wrote the Hindu newspaper.

Bajirao Mastani, on the other hand, has received mixed to positive reviews.

Film critic Anupama Chopra remarked that its director Sanjay Leela Bhansali “had dared greatly, and succeeded.”

The Hindu called it the film a “historical leap;” while a review on Firstpost read, “Sparkling like a polished diamond, every frame of this magnum opus shows a master craftsman at work.”