Even though the Shiv Sena had asked for a clear release for Thackeray, and some filmmakers obliged by shifting their release dates, Kangana Ranaut stayed put with Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi on January 25. As a result, the Republic Day weekend is all set for an epic battle between a political leader and an historical figure at the box office.
Thackeray has locked in 2000 screens, and will be released in 16 countries simultaneously. Whereas Manikarnika has bagged 2900 screens. It will be released in 50 countries, and in three languages - Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.
Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the role of late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, Thackeray's release is more focused on Maharashtra. Meanwhile, Kangana is hoping to woo a larger audience with Manikarnika.
Talking about the clash, trade Analyst Atul Mohan told News18, "Both of them are very important films. Thackeray is more targeted at the Marathi audience. Bal Thackeray was a big leader for Maharashtra and there is a lot of curiosity about his life. On the other hand, Manikarnika is an ambitious film for Kangana. Her last films haven't done very well and she needs to bounce back. There is a lot riding on the film."
"Early reviews for Manikarnika are positive. I believe both films will do well, because both are approaching different audiences. Thackeray makers are ensuring that the film releases all over the state, including the single screens. They are releasing the film in Marathi in 75% of the screens out of their total screen share, only 25% of the screens will show it in Hindi," Atul said.
"In terms of a pan-India audience, Manikarnika has a bigger appeal, because everyone is familiar with the contribution of the Jhansi ki Rani towards our freedom struggle. The film also has the bigger screen share, so it has chances of doing better," he added.
Film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi is of a similar opinion, but says Manikarnika will go neck-to-neck with Thackeray in Maharashtra. “Manikarnika will obviously dominate across India, but there will be a neck-to-neck scenario in the state (Maharashtra), especially with the Marathi and Hindi version of Thackeray coming together," he said in a hindustantimes.com report.
A lot of effort is being made to ensure that Thackeray gets as many eyeballs as possible in Maharashtra. Carnival Cinemas, who are also part producers of the film, are hosting a two-day movie marathon for Thackeray, including early morning shows across the state. The first show will begin as early as 4am on January 25 and the last show will go on till 2am on January 27.
With so much anticipation and so many expectations riding on both the films, it remains to be seen whether everyone goes home happy, or the box office figures and reviews turn in an unfavourable direction for any one.