Big screens await its big break

Movie-theatres are back in action with a line-up of big releases, but where are the movie-goers?

When Roohi was about to hit the theatres on March 11, it had a lot on its shoulders. Starring Rajkummar Rao and Jhanvi Kapoor, the film was the first big banner one which dared to opt for a theatrical release, after almost a year. It was more of a litmus test – to weigh out Bollywood’s next big step… towards the big screen.

But though the film producers planned it out well, it seems like Covid-19 aka Coronavirus had some other plans! Around the third week of March, cases in India started witnessing a dramatic rise. On March 27, India recorded 62,258 new Coronavirus cases, the biggest single-day jump since October 16 last year.

And just when things, for the Indian film industry, were about to look up – the dark cloud of uncertainty yet again seems to hover over their head. 

As the pandemic situation was getting better since the beginning of this year, many big banner films decided to revive the magic of the big screens. Dibakar Banerjee’s Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar as well as Mumbai Saga and Saina, the Parineeti Chopra-starrer Saina Nehwal biopic, released on March 19 and March 26 respectively.

Roohi made a box office collection of Rs 22.25 crores as of March 26, its second Friday. John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi-starrer Mumbai Saga amassed a total of Rs 14.93 crore in the same duration. On the other hand, the much anticipated Saina had an opening collection of Rs 15 lakh at the box office, and with cases rising – it is struggling to draw audience to the theatres.

 The dismal fate of these films speaks volumes. Such big budget and star-studded films too are struggling to make a mark at the box office. Then it is matter of concern whether the ones which are yet to release will have a smooth landing or not?

The line-up of big releases are impressive, to say the least. Amitabh Bachchan starrer Chehre (April 9), Saif Ali Khan & Rani Mukherji starrer Bunty Aur Babli 2 (April 23), Kangana Ranaut’s Thalaivi (April 23), Salman Khan’s Radhe – Eid (date yet to be announced), Akshay Kumar’s Bell Bottom (May 28), Ranbir Kapoor’s Shamshera (June 25), Ayushmann Khurrana’s Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui (July 9), Alia Bhatt’s Gangubai Kathiawadi (July 30), Akshay Kumar & Sara Ali Khan starrer Atrangi Re (August 6), Ranveer Singh’s Jayeshbhai Jordaar (August 27), Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha (December) – these are just some of the many more releases that are awaiting its premiere on cinemas this year.

Many of these films were ready to be released in 2020, but owing to the pandemic they had to wait it out. But was the wait worth it?

As many film critics and analysts predicted, that by March 2021 – cinema halls will be back in action and thus, the films that have refrained from an OTT release will get its due. Though, it seems even though the first half of the prediction stands true – as cinema halls are functional, but where are the cinema goers?

Cinema halls are running on losses due to low footfalls, and that too now with a rise in cases, one can imagine that the losses might reach a new low!

Many states in the country had resorted to night curfews, especially Maharashtra. Mumbai being the core or source of Bollywood – it also affects the film production in many ways. In the last few months, a host of B-town celebs like Aamir Khan, Kartik Aaryan, Ranbir Kapoor, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, among many tested Covid positive. It led to the disruption of their film shoots, and as has been the case since production began – such hindrances are leading to monetary losses, and taking up a lot of time as well.

Thus, in such a situation, it’s tough to predict whether these big releases will turn the tables or yet again, OTT will come in as the knight in shining armour. And as far as cinemagoers are concerned, even when they would love seeing Alia owning up the screen as Gangubai or rooting for Salman to blow up the screen in Radhe – safety concerns may deter them to do so. But one can always hope against hope, and dream of a cinematic miracle in life, kyunki picture abhi baaki hain…

(Cover: Credit – Getty Images)

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