All eyes on big Bollywood releases as cinema halls open
The Government of India has announced that cinema halls will be allowed to reopen across the country starting October 15, and fans are overjoyed. The decision has been hailed by the film fraternity, too, who are now waiting for all the state governments to give a green signal.
Theatres had been shut ever since lockdown was imposed in March, to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. On Wednesday, the Union Home Ministry announced it was allowing cinemas, theatres and multiplexes to reopen with 50 per cent seating capacity from October 15.
"This is a great announcement but we still have to wait for all the states to open up. Many states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are yet to open up. Sooryavanshi and '83 have been ready for quite some time. 'Sooryavanshi' was originally slated for a Diwali release, but it's not practical. Even if theatres open up in November, you can't release such a big film with 15 days promotion time," Reliance Entertainment Group CEO Shibashish Sarkar told IANS.
While filmmaker Rohit Shetty's "Sooryavanshi" will bring Akshay Kumar back in the cop avatar, actor Ranveer Singh will be seen in the much-hyped Kabir Khan's "83" as the iconic Kapil Dev, who captained India's first-ever cricket World Cup victory campaign in 1983.
"As of now, '83' is slated for a Christmas release. Of course, we won't bring two films in December. I still haven't had a chat with Rohit Shetty or Kabir Khan. But one thing is clear that we don't want to hold the films indefinitely. We would like to bring one film during Christmas and another between January and March, but we have to see when all the states open up," said Sarkar.
One thing is clear. None of bigwigs wants a clash at this point.
Aamir Khan's "Laal Singh Chaddha" was originally set for a Christmas 2020 release. The film, based on the 1994 Tom Hanks blockbuster "Forrest Gump", has now been moved to Christmas 2021.
The release date of another much-awaited film "Radhe", starring Salman Khan, is still unknown. The film was slated to release on Eid 2020 before the pandemic happened. In September, his co-actor Randeep Hooda had started dubbing for it.
There are some exciting women-led films lined up for release, but again no one is willing to confirm a release date till all states make cinemas operational.
"Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are yet to declare a date when they plan to open cinema halls. Maharashtra is a big territory, so we are eagerly waiting for a date. We hope by November 7 or so, theatres should be operational in Maharashtra. We are very excited that entire theatre chains and distribution chains are opening up because we believe that films, directors and actors get huge appreciation when the product releases in theatres. Stars are made in theatres," Vinod Bhanushali, President of Marketing, Media and Publishing (TV), Music Acquisition of T-Series, Co-Producer of T-Series Films, told IANS.
"We have few films that are getting into the post-production mode, and as soon as we are ready and it's all open, we will be releasing films in November, in theatres," he added.
To name a couple of films, they have "Indu Ki Jaawani", starring Kiara Advani, and the Parineeti Chopra-starrer Saina Nehwal biopic.
"We are immediately starting work on these two films, and more films will follow. There is also 'Madam Chief Minister', which has Richa Chadha in the lead. It is also going into post-production. These three films would probably be the first few we plan to release once the theatres open. We are looking at November release dates, once we get clarity by mid-October. We will start the campaign accordingly and are hoping to have one or two releases during Diwali," said Bhanushali.
Shariq Patel, CEO, Zee Studios, said that their banner, too, has a few films ready to go off the block.
"Cinema owners have continually highlighted safety and hygiene measures they are taking. It is time to bring back the audience to the theatre. We are extremely excited about the news, as the whole purpose of our job is to bring entertainment and joy to the audience. We have recently launched 'Khaali Peeli' on Zee Plex. Yes, we have a few projects ready and are looking forward to bringing these to our audience in the theatres," he said.
Some of the upcoming projects announced by the studio include the Manoj Bajpayee-Diljit Dosanjh-starrer "Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari" and the Bosco Martis directorial "Rocket Gang".
The lockdown saw many Bollywood films skipping the theatrical route and opting for a direct OTT release. Producer Anand Pandit's "The Big Bull", with Abhishek Bachchan in the lead, and the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer "Chehre" are among upcoming films scheduled for OTT release, but Pandit hopes to re-release these films in theatres.
"The industry as a whole is relieved and excited at the prospect of cinemas re-opening, with safety precautions in mind. 'The Big Bull' and 'Chehre' are both scheduled for OTT release. However, we are definitely looking at the possibility of a re-release in theatres. In the meantime, I would like to release some of my previous releases for free to welcome the audience back to the theatres," said the producer, who has backed films like "Total Dhamaal" and "Sarkar 3" in the past.