As the Indian squad for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup (February 14 to March 29) is announced, and with the Indian Premier League (IPL; April 8-May 24) following right after, cricket fever in the country is rising. Although, traditionally, such phases do pose a threat for Bollywood, as the otherwise-engaged audience tends to get distracted and divided, this year, the industry doesn’t seem as worried.
While the World Cup still seems to have made a few filmmakers wary (there are limited big releases during this phase), the IPL has no bearing on the industry, as several movies will release during the tournament.
The few films that will hit theatres during the World Cup include the Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Roy, Varun Dhawan-starrer Badlapur and Anushka Sharma’s NH 10. "Main Tera Hero (2014) released on the day India played South Africa (during the T20 World Cup). Still, the film did well. I am a big cricket lover myself, and I want India to do well in the World Cup, but I strongly believe that film lovers will continue to watch the films that they want to," says Varun.
Interestingly, during the last World Cup (February 19-April 2, 2011), eight small and mid-budget films had hit theatres, of which Tanu Weds Manu was the only one that went on to be successful. But Bhushan Kumar, who has produced Roy, is confident. "We had discussed the World Cup before deciding the release date (of Roy), but then we realised that cricket fever isn’t as high as it used to be. Plus, India isn’t playing every day, and not all the people are going to be interested in cricket," he says.
No fear of the IPL
April onwards, during the IPL, B-Town will see the release of several big films — Detective Byomkesh Bakshy starring Sushant Singh Rajput, Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Broken Horses (international project), Shoojit Sircar’s Piku starring Deepika Padukone and Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet. Incidentally, in 2014, of the 20 films that released during the IPL, only two (2 States and Heropanti) did well. "I am not worried or anxious about my film coming in the middle of IPL," says Sircar.
Meanwhile, the trade feels that cricket will have "some effect" on the movie business. "When India is playing a match, the business will surely be affected. But since the World Cup isn’t happening in India, the timings might work in the films’ favour. Filmmakers don’t have any other option. They can’t push their films by four months to avoid clashing with cricket. They have to take the risk," says trade analyst Amod Mehra.
Releases during the World Cup
Release: February 13
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Jacqueline Fernandez
Release: February 20
Starring: Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi
Release: March 6
Anushka Sharma, Neil Bhoopalam
During the IPL
Release: April 10
Starring: Vincent D’Onofrio, Anton Yelchin
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy
Release: April 10
Starring: Sushant Singh Rajput, Swastika Mukherjee, Anand Tiwari
Release: April 30
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan Khan
Release: May 15
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar
(Film Release dates are subject to change)