With Maharashtra, India’s biggest box office territory, reopening cinemas and movie halls, Bollywood film producers have set release dates for long-delayed films that are rumored to have ‘blockbuster potential’.
Rohit Shetty’s cop drama Sooryavanshi starring Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Ranveer Singh and Katrina Kaif will open November 4 during the Diwali holiday period. Kabir Khan’s 83 starring Ranveer Singh, which recounts the Indian men’s cricket team win in the 1983 World Cup, is set for release in Christmas of 2021. It is set to clash with Forrest Grump remake Laal Singh Chaddha starring Aamir Khan, which is also slated for release.e
Moreover, Bunty Aur Babli 2 starring Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukherji, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Sharvari Wagh will release on November 19. Yash Raj Films’ big budget historical drama Prithviraj starring Akshay Kumar and Sanjay Dutt is set for release on January 21, 2022. Family entertainer Jayeshbhai Jordaar which stars Ranveer Singh will release on February 25, 2022. Ranbir Kapoor-led Shamshera will pull cinema goers on March 18, 2022.
To attract audience, some multiplexes in Mumbai ran free morning shows and a few even threw in a free tub of popcorn per ticket purchased, while others had heavily discounted ticket prices. Rajeev Patni, COO, Inox Leisure, told ToI that they were almost sold out for the morning shows across all their multiplexes in Maharashtra. “The overall turnout during the day has been reminiscent to the pre-COVID days and we are certain that the sentiment would remain like this.”
Prashant Kulkarni, senior vice-president, sales marketing, Carnival Cinemas said they have opened fewer properties at present because of limited content available. “We are confident that footfall will increase on November 5 when we have two big-ticket releases. We plan to throw open all our properties then.”
Ajay Bijli, chairman of India’s largest cinema chain PVR, said the effects of the pandemic will linger but they are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the theatre-going audience.
The COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdowns and the devastating second wave of infections in April and May 2021 have kept movie lovers away from the silver screen, putting multiplexes and small cinemas out of business and hitting production firms hard.
Komal Nahta, film trade analyst, told AFP that Maharashtra state and its capital Mumbai are among the last to re-open theatres, multiplexes and auditoriums, but for the industry it is very, very important. “Maharashtra contributes about 20% of the total all-India theatrical revenue and Mumbai is the nerve centre of Bollywood.” Nahta predicted audiences will remain with a vengeance and therefore there will be collections probably which will be beyond everybody’s imagination.