What’s #MeToo bill for Bollywood?
The #MeToo wave that has crashed upon Bollywood, engulfing names such as Nana Patekar, Alok Nath, Sajid Khan, and Vikas Bahl, is here to stay. As production houses take the blow, and A-list stars such as Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar step away from films and cancel shoots — they’re showing solidarity with the victims of sexual harassment — what does this mean for the high-stakes film industry, where each day’s delay means financial losses for producers and film crews?
Films such as Akshay’s Housefull 4, Aamir’s Mogul, and Hrithik Roshan’s Super 30 are among those that most recently made news for these reasons. But trade experts don’t foresee a push in the release dates — Super 30 could be an exception — or the box-office collections being hit.
“Let’s wait and watch,” says trade analyst Atul Mohan. He adds that “corrective steps” have already been taken by the Housefull 4 team. The film’s first director, Sajid Khan, has stepped down and has also been replaced. “A new director might need time to settle in, but the film has a lot of time… more than a year (to be made),” says the analyst.
Veteran star Nana Patekar, a cast member of Housefull 4, also stepped down from the film — the accusation that he faced for his alleged sexual misbehaviour with actor Tanushree Dutta first helped the #MeToo movement gather steam in India. There’s buzz that Nana’s portions would be reshot with a new actor. “This can add a 10% cost. If Nana had shot for 10 days, and if an average of ₹20 lakh (a day) was spent on production, it’ll mean a spend of ₹2-2.5 crore extra (now), but I guess that can’t be helped,” adds Mohan.
“No do-or-die situation here,” says trade expert Komal Nahta, in agreement. On a different note, trade analyst Amod Mehra argues, “Delays or additional costs are a part of the game. Accidents on the sets or an actor getting injured [also] increases cost, so one can’t really speculate.”
What about Super 30, due to release in January next year? Trade expert Sanjay Mehta says, “That’s the only film I see perhaps getting affected, but that, too, its release maybe. The shooting is complete.”
For Mogul, “it’s too early to say anything,” feels Mehta. Nahta says, “It’s a film on (T-Series boss) Bhushan Kumar’s father. It might get delayed, but won’t be shelved.” About chances of any of the films being boycotted by viewers, the trade experts unanimously agree that “it won’t happen”.