7th June 2002 – This was the day when a three way clash happened between The Legend of Bhagat Singh, 23rd March 1931 Shaheed and Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai. With Ajay Devgn spearheading the show for the first film in question and Bobby Deol along with Sunny Deol coming together for the second, no one was really willing to give the third film any chance whatsoever as it came across as a much smaller film with Jimmy Sheirgill and Uday Chopra coming together.
Well, though such kind of surprises are rare on clashes, it was Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai which won the clash against The Legend of Bhagat Singh and 23rd March 1931 Shaheed.
The equation was supposed to be totally different though. It was widely assumed in the industry as well as the trade circles that leave aside Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, it would be pretty much a one-way clash with The Legend of Bhagat Singh winning comfortably over 23rd March 1931 Shaheed. Both the films dealt with Bhagat Singh and though Sonu Sood’s version of the story had already been released a few weeks back (and turned out to be a massive flop), the combination of Ajay Devgn with Raj Kumar Santoshi was expected to be lethal.
Yes, the track record of Bobby Deol and Sunny Deol with their in-house director Guddu Dhanoa was quite good as well, courtesy number of hit films that they had given together. Still, there was a lot more buzz around The Legend of Bhagat Singh and right from its first promo to the overall marketing and promotion, it had a huge edge over 23rd March 1931 Shaheed.
The unthinkable happened though on the day of release as The Legend of Bhagat Singh took a very poor opening of less than 75 lakhs whereas 23rd March 1931 Shaheed was somewhat better as it at least managed to go past a respectable figure of 1 crore and came close to the 1.25 crores mark. No one really saw that coming, whereas for Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai not much was written about even on the day of release as it collected the least of it all with a mere 50 lakhs opening.
However, the real game began post the weekend as Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai started catching up with The Legend of Bhagat Singh, even though 23rd March 1931 Shaheed had a clear lead as it collected more than the sum total of both the other films.
As days progressed though, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai continued to do well basis all-around positive word of mouth, 23rd March 1931 Shaheed crashed and The Legend of Bhagat Singh couldn’t recover at all from its poor opening. Made at a budget of 20 crores each, both Bhagat Singh sagas turned out to be major box office disasters with lifetime number closing around the 7.50 crores mark. On the other hand, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, which was made at mere 6 crores, went on to top the collections with 8.50 crores accumulated at the box office, hence emerging a good success.
Today, The Legend of Bhagat Singh is hailed as a cult classic of sorts. It went on to grab quite a few awards for itself, most notably the national award for the best actor [Ajay Devgn] as well as the best feature film in Hindi [director Rajkumar Santoshi and producers Ramesh Taurani and Kumar Taurani]. Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi continues to enjoy good viewership on satellite and digital medium. As for 23rd March 1931 Shaheed, the film which took the biggest opening of them all, it has ironically been forgotten.