MUMBAI—It was set to be the first major box-office clash of the year on Jan. 25, but in the interest of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's controversial drama "Padmaavat" – set to hit the screens after a lengthy row – actor Akshay Kumar on Jan. 19 announced that he is shifting the release of his "Pad Man" to Feb. 9.
"Bhansali sir asked me if I can move my film. See, we are one family, and I can understand he has gone through a lot, he has put a lot of money, the studio people have put a lot of money. I would want 'Padmaavat' to release solo and would like to wish him luck," Akshay Kumar told media persons here.
He addressed a joint press conference with Bhansali at his residence.
Bhansali, who has co-produced "Padmaavat" with Viacom18 Motion Pictures, said he was grateful to Akshay Kumar for the gesture.
"I requested Akshay if he can shift the film because he is such a big star and our troubles might have increased if we would have released the film together. He knows all our troubles, so he didn't even take two minutes and said, 'Whatever you want, however you want, I am with you,'" Bhansali said, adding that he will be grateful to Akshay Kumar for a "lifetime."
Asked why "Pad Man" had to shift and not "Padmaavat," Kumar said: "They have a reason to release it this time. It is very essential for them to release it as quickly as possible.
"The point is not about fighting or clashing. But at the moment, the stake of their film is much more higher than mine."
Akshay Kumar's "Pad Man" – which marks his wife Twinkle Khanna's maiden production venture – tells the story of a real-life superhero who invented a low-cost sanitary pad manufacturing machine to bring a menstrual hygiene revolution for women.
Its unique story, inspiring message and Kumar’s portrayal – once again – as a common man's hero, has kept the anticipation level high for the R. Balki directorial, which also features Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte.
Earlier, "Pad Man" was slated to clash with "Aiyaary." But after the makers of "Padmaavat" secured a U/A certificate from the censor board after incorporating five modifications, and locked the release date as Jan. 25 – tapping into the long Republic Day weekend – the makers of "Aiyaary" shifted the film's release date to Feb. 9.
Now, the clash is back to square one, with even "Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety" crowding the Feb. 9 date.
It has been a long journey for "Padmaavat," which stars Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, and Shahid Kapoor.
From being assaulted on the film's set in Jaipur to his set being vandalised in Kolhapur to getting threats from detractors – Bhansali has been facing the ire of organizations that are up in arms against the period drama since its inception -- from when it was titled "Padmavati."
Months after facing opposition, the makers, Bhansali Productions, and Viacom18 Motion Pictures clarified that the film is based on 16th century Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi's epic poem "Padmavat," and does not distort historical facts -- as was being alleged by some Rajput outfits.
"It is an ode to the famed valor, legacy, and courage of Rajputs," the makers have maintained.
However, its detractors, with Shree Rajput Karni Sena at the forefront, have been persistent in their protests against the movie and in their demand for stopping its release.
But the makers heaved a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court on Thursday paved the way for an all-India release for the movie, saying it was incumbent upon the state governments to ensure maintenance of law and order.