It’s time for the ‘big’ push: Hindi film world waiting for a blockbuster!

Unlike previous years, this Diwali didn’t see any fireworks at the box office, with almost every Hindi film going towards OTT platforms due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown. Although Diljit Dosanjh-Manoj Bajpayee starrer Suraj pe Mangal Bhari (SPMB) broke the shackles to hit theatres in the Diwali weekend, movie experts, while “applauding the makers for prioritising the big screen”, admits that the “response to SPMB hasn’t been very great.”

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Get, set, go!

Even as the film exhibition sector yearns for “big projects” to move the film trade wheels again, we have learnt that Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif starrer Sooryavanshi and ’83 featuring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone will finally have a date with the big screen in the first quarter of 2021. “We would have no other option but to release both the films between January and March, as the financial year closes by the end of the first quarter. It’s too early to say anything but we should be fine with about two week-gap between the films,” says Shibasish Sarkar, group CEO, Reliance Entertainment that has backed both the films.

Calling such films “the need of the hour”, industry insiders/experts, on their part, are enthused with the news. “See, audiences did turn up to watch SPMB here and there, but to attract people again to the theatres – after a gap of around eight-nine months – in hordes, you need a big film. And so, the news that ’83 and Sooryavanshi will finally release in the first quarter [of 2021] will be like music to exhibitors-theatre owners’ ears,” says trade expert Taran Adarsh.

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Need of the hour

As per an estimate, almost 40-45 per cent of the country’s film screens are yet to start operating again, with one of the major reasons being absence of fresh content starring top names. For exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi, SPMB has “given a heart-warming start.” “It released in just about 800 screens, with 50 per cent occupancy, and limited number of shows. Plus, there’s still the fear of the virus. So, given the circumstances, it has actually done quite well,” says Rathi, admitting that exhibitors-distributors “would want a top star driven film to come out right now and steady the boat in a way.”

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“And it’s a fact that films such as ’83 and Sooryavanshi can give a huge fillip to the film exhibition sector. But I feel before that some small budget or mid-range films can be released to make audiences ready, or get them into the habit to watch movies before absolute big ones arrive,” he adds. Talking of other upcoming movies, while rumours suggest that Bunty Aur Babli 2 may come out on Christmas, other films that are in the ready stages include Mumbai saga, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar and Jayeshbhai Jordaar etc. Kiara Advani-starrer Indoo Ki Jawani has been confirmed for a December 21 release.

At the same time, Adarsh maintains that since “the virus is still around us”, entertainment consumption will take time but big movies can “help expedite that process”, while Rathi feels that the “survival of the entire ecosystem will be imperative for every stakeholder.” “So, we have to smartly come out of this ICU-like situation,” he concludes.

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