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 December 16, 2002 
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Suniel Shetty
Friday special: Kaante, Saathiya
AB & Co vs Vivek and Rani

Subhash K Jha

After Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas, this year's most eagerly awaited film, Kaante, will hit theatres on December 20.

"Once the negatives were airborne," a relieved director Sanjay Gupta said, "the film's release date was no longer in the air. I can finally sleep after 13 months. We are finally releasing on December 20. The advance booking has already opened in Mumbai and Delhi."

The last two months have been traumatic for Gupta with Raju Patel, the film’s international producer, reportedly refusing to part with the final negatives of Kaante until his dues were cleared by the Indian producers. The suspense ended when associate director Hriday Shetty and editor Bunty Negi boarded the plane from Los Angeles on December 14 with the Kaante negatives.

Shringar Films, the film's Mumbai distributors, expressed misgivings about getting a posh chain of theatres at such short notice, especially since Kaante's release had been postponed twice in December. Besides, Yash Chopra's YashRaj Films has already booked the best theatres in Mumbai for its Saathiya for December 20.

Says Gupta, "We were supposed to release for Dassera, Diwali and Eid. It is befitting Kaante finally comes for Christmas since it was shot entirely in LA."

Says Saathiya's debutant director Shaad Ali, "I know Kaante is being released on the same day as Saathiya. I am nervous about it. There is also a sense of excitement that I am going to release my film on the same day as an Amitabh Bachchan film."

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Shaad -- whose father is director Muzaffar Ali, mother former Kanpur MP Subhasini Ali and grandmother Colonel Laxmi Sehgal, the Indian National Army heroine who contested this year's Presidential election as the Marxist candidate -- sees no qualitative competition between Kaante and Saathiya.

"They are two completely different films. College going kids would bunk classes to see Saathiya. Maybe hardcore frontbenchers would prefer Kaante. The solid viewership of 30-plus couples and college kids would opt for Saathiya. But I still want Kaante to be one of the big films of the year. It looks terrific and different," he says.

"There is nothing I can do about Kaante," he adds. "Our date was decided months ago. I am trying to think positive. I hope both films do well."

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