Bollywood is headed for a dry spell as the stand-off between the producers and multiplexes worsens this weekend and the Indian Premier League (IPL) is ready to invade television screens later this month.
"Really, it couldn't have been a worse time for Bollywood with bad quality movies dominating from January till March, producers calling a strike in April and then May seeing IPL at its ferocious best," rues Madhur Bhandarkar, who is currently busy shooting Jail.
After a disastrous first quarter of 2009, this seems to be the industry's worst dream coming true with hardly any films being confirmed for the next two months except Kal Kissne Dekha (releasing May 1) and Kambakkth Ishq, scheduled to open May 29.
The period from January to March has been terrible to say the least as films flopped left, right and centre. Each of the biggies failed at the box office, whether it was Chandni Chowk To China, Billu Barber or Dilli 6. Successes like Dev D and Raaz - The Mystery Continues haven't been big enough to compensate for the losses.
"The need of the hour is cinema that people are dying to watch and enjoy," said Sajid Khan, who is getting ready to begin shooting for "Housefull" starring Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone.
"There have to be many more money spinners like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Om Shanti Om, Dhoom 2, Singh Is Kinng and Ghajini arriving back to back in theatres," the filmmaker added.
There is little chance that the films in the coming quarter could do the trick because of the two roadblocks - the producers versus multiplexes stand-off and the IPL.
To begin with the first issue, this time around the producers have tightened their stand as a result of which no new films will be released from April 4 onwards.
"So strong has been the outlook of producers towards the entire issue, rightly so, that there are no promos of any upcoming movie which is currently on air. This means that the makers are more than 100 percent convinced that the stand-off is not expected to end before the month of May begins," a distributor said on condition of anonymity.
With the month of April being completely lost except the Akshay Kumar-starrer "8X10 Tasveer", all eyes will be on the releases taking place in May, provided the strike is over by then with producers and multiplexes arriving at some sort of resolution.
In May, Bollywood will face tough competition from the IPL matches.
Most of the month there will be the Twenty20 matches that would be watched by millions of Indians between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. And trade experts feel this translates into loss of prime time of movie-watching, with films likely to play in empty houses till May 24.
Not that May would be devoid of any releases though. As per the original schedule (when producers hadn't called a strike), movies like New York, Life Partner, Raftaar 24x7, Shortcut - The Con is On, Jashn and Kal Kissne Dekha were all confirmed for release.
However, with all plans going topsy-turvy, the only two confirmed releases of the month are Kal Kissne Dekha and Kambakkth Ishq.