What was meant to be a huge marketing coup pulled by the Ek Tha Tiger team may just end up as another round of one-upmanship between arch rivals Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan away from home.
Barely a few days after Kabir Khan broke the news of Ek Tha Tiger releasing in Japan on Twitter, Farah Khan -- who directed the 2007 SRK starrer Om Shanti Om -- took to her account to inform followers that her 2007 film is set to open in Japanese theatres soon.
Director Kabir Khan excitedly embarked on a four-city tour of Japan last week at the invitation of Japanese distributors Nikkatsu Corporation and April 20 was fixed as the release date.
Meanwhile, Eros International has announced the Japanese release of their 2007 Shah Rukh Khan blockbuster. Titled Koi Suru Rinne and releasing with Japanese subtitles, the film will reportedly get a 15-print release across Japan on March 16.
Although Eros maintains that their rushed release of Om Shanti Om in Japan this weekend has nothing to do with Yashraj’s plans for Ek Tha Tiger, a source close to both the actors reveals that the OSO releaseis primarily meant to give Shah Rukh a head-start over Salman in the Japanese market, which is mostly an uncharted territory.
Says the source, “Eros is only releasing the film because it'll give SRK some kind of edge if his film released first. Also, reincarnation -- the theme of OSO -- is a big deal for the Japanese.”
While Eros maintains that Bollywood and Shah Rukh Khan have a “cult following” in Japan , Ek Tha Tiger director Kabir Khan believes that Japan is new to Bollywood.
The director says, “I wonder why Bollywood has not explored Japan for shooting! I don’t think any significant Hindi film after Love In Tokyo has been shot there. There is no market for Indian films and filmmakers in the country. Even Rajnikanth’s popularity in Japan was only a phase that has now faded. As of now, Japan has no knowledge of Bollywood or Bollywood stars. It was Nikkatsu Corporation who took the initiative to bring Bollywood to the country. We are starting from scratch there.”
Interestingly, Khan side-steps the pre-emptive Om Shanti Om release.
“Yes, I believe Om Shanti Om is releasing in Japan. But it’s not a part of Nikkatsu’s Bollywood plans. We’ve plans of initially releasing 30 prints of Ek Tha Tiger in Japan to be scaled up to 70 prints. Their initial package includes Ek Tha Tiger, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, 3 Idiots and Don 2.
"With these films they hope to introduce Bollywood in Japan. Hopefully we’ll also start shooting some films there. I really don’t know why Japan has been a closed door for Bollywood. Maybe because Tokyo is considered an expensive city.”