New films such as Raksha Bandhan and Phone Bhoot have been announced amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
New films such as Raksha Bandhan and Phone Bhoot have been announced amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Announcements galore: Bollywood announces new films even as old ones wait for release

Although there’s no status on when cinema halls will reopen and pending films would get released, Bollywood has gone ahead and announced new projects. Experts feel it’s a positive sign.
Hindustan Times | By Rishabh Suri
UPDATED ON AUG 23, 2020 04:12 PM IST

Theatres are closed and audiences are waiting for them to reopen to watch many film, including some big-budget ones like Sooryavanshi and ‘83, whose makers have clearly said that they aren’t keen on releasing either of them on OTT platforms. However, the Hindi film industry is in no mood to wait and watch.

Actor Akshay Kumar has announced a new project Raksha Bandhan, while Ayushmann Khurrana is set to collaborate with director Abhishek Kapoor for a new film. Prabhas has revealed that his next is going to be with Deepika Padukone. Phone Bhoot will see a quirky combination of Katrina Kaif, Ishaan Khatter and Sidhant Chaturvedi. Vikrant Massey will star opposite Kriti Kharbanda in 14 Phere.

POSITIVE SIGN

Filmmaker Anees Bazmee, who hasn’t yet resumed the shoot for Bhool Bhulaiya 2 sees this as a positive sign. “We’re very optimistic people. This coronavirus, it’s not as if it will be there for our entire lives, every disease has a time period. We have to learn to live with it, and can’t stop everything forever. Theatres will open one day, and the fear will go away,” he says.

What about accommodating the pending releases?

“That will be a big challenge. Everyone will have to cooperate with each other,” adds Bazmee.

Echoing similar sentiments is filmmaker Milap Milan Zaveri, whose next is Satyameva Jayate 2 with John Abraham. He tells us, “As Raj Kapoor saab famously said “The show must go on”. It’s heartening that new projects are being announced. Eventually cinemas will reopen and the big ticket films that are lines up will release. Films like Sooryavanshi, 83 and Radhe will bring masses back to cinemas. Then it’s the responsibly of other film makers to keep it going.”

Actors on their part too are prepping to get back into the shoot mode. Ishaan Khatter is excited for Phone Bhoot, for which he reveals he hopefully starts shooting end of this year.

“It’s a first for me in many ways, with Katrina and Sidhant, who’s a pal of mine. The most exciting thing is it’s my first in the comedy genre. I haven’t done comedy before, maybe just fragments of it in two films,” tells us the 24-year-old.

 

HOW WILL THE BACKLOG BE CLEARED TO MAKE SPACE?

Trade experts feel that things aren’t as jungled up as they sound. Joginder Tuteja says that as far as pending films are concerned, in the next six months, 20-25 films will anyway come on OTT platforms.

“Every year, 80-100 (Hindi) movies are released, and the ones which do good business in theatres are 25-30. The remaining films struggle because of whatever reason. Most of them get a better market on OTT,” he says.

Elaborating on how he sees the next year panning out, Tuteja adds, “Big films won’t start coming immediately. We have say, 25 big films every year, which means one of them every second week. Even when theatres reopen, they will wait for mid-size films to come first, and smaller films will anyway have been released online.”

NEED MORE ANNOUNCEMENTS

Exhibitor Akshaye Rathi reveals a study has been done within the industry. “Films which are either ready or in the final stages are an odd 150, across languages — Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, all combined. On an average, every year, we release around 2000 films in India. Right now, in stock we have 150, as technically we don’t have supply of content since last two months,” explains Rathi. 

He points to how big stars need to get into the “Akshay Kumar gear” and do multiple films in a year, which is the only way for cinemas to “come back to life”.

Rathi explains, “Smaller films will add value to cinemas, but in this scenario, what would compel people to come back to cinemas are ones featuring superstars, across India. Also, the 150 films I mentioned, as an exhibitor, I would say it is important to space them out by two weeks, especially tent poles.”

Reliance Entertainment CEO Shibasish Sarkar says more new releases would be needed when theatres reopen and business picks up pace.

“This shows the bullishness of the industry, that we are not shying away from not just announcing, but films like Bell Bottom have already started shooting. Also, the backlog won’t pose a problem, as many films are releasing on OTT platforms. Remaining films will get into completion by September-October. It’s actually on a reverse. The next calendar year, the first three to six months could actually be scarcity of products. So we definitely need more films,” he elucidates.

Interact with the author on Twitter/ @RishabhSuri02

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