A festive Diwali in the offing

It is the celebratory mood in the film industry, in the exhibition trade as well as production sector besides all those allied with these two. Yes, it is the traditionally Indian festival period in the country starting August. Soon, the Navratri celebrations begin to be followed by the biggest festivals of them all, Diwali.
Representative Image
Representative Image

Mumbai

It is the celebratory mood in the film industry, in theexhibition trade as well as production sector besides all those allied withthese two. Yes, it is the traditionally Indian festival period in the countrystarting August. Soon, the Navratri celebrations begin to be followed by thebiggest festivals of them all, Diwali.

But, the festivemood, which was missing so far in the film trade has set in already. And, thereason for the festive mood is the announcement by the Maharashtra Governmentto ease the lockdown norms on cinema halls with effect from Oct 22, a fortnightbefore the Diwali festival. And, that is a big reason to celebrate.

Almost all Indianstates had given the go-ahead to the cinemas to reopen, albeit, with conditionsto counter the pandemic. The conditions are a bit stiff but necessary and maynot be the most conducive for the release of a film and its box officeprospects. But, these conditions commonly apply to all the cinemas across allthe states.

The filmmakers seemso relieved with this announcement of the Maharashtra Government, that they gotactive immediately and started announcing their release plans one after theother. So far, the release dates of a dozen and half major films have beenannounced, some wanting to take advantage of the Diwali week while some othershave spanned out to coincide with other opportune holiday weeks.

The cinemas, even themultiplex properties, had to either repeat the old films or some gap fillerswith no face value at all! The films ready for release at that time were mostlybig budget films and the producers did not quite comprehend how the film wouldrecover the investments with 50 per cent capacity and other stringent rulesimposed. But, most of all, it can be attributed to instincts (film industry,especially the filmmaker, depends a lot on instincts, the inner voice).

How come theproducers who lacked the confidence and decided to hold back their films duringthe last lockdown withdrawal between the two waves of the pandemic are so forthcomingnow? It is because of the go-ahead given by the Maharashtra state. Why does theMaharashtra state make so much of a difference? It is because, coupled withGujarat, the Bombay Circuit, which included the whole of Gujarat and most partsof Maharashtra, are the most lucrative for a film's box office. To release afilm with 50 per cent occupancy and without the Bombay circuit at that wouldspell disaster.

Though the unlockingconditions remain stiff, the enthusiasm of both, the production sector as wellas the cinemas, is the same. The air is positive. How does one make that out?It may sound like being on overdrive, but since the day of the announcement bythe Maharashtra Government, the production houses have been on a release slotannouncement frenzy.

The state governmentnews came on the evening of Sep 25. Yash Raj Films was the first to announcedates for the banner's four films which have been ready for release, awaitingeasing of lockdown norms. Not to be held back, release dates of as many as 15more films were made in one day, Sunday, Sept 26! As of now, release dates havebeen announced not only for the remainder of the 2021 but also for most of2022.

Looks like the filmtrade is bent upon on reviving itself this time. After all, 18 months ofclosedown can be ruinous and sooner the industry is back on track, better forall concerned.

 During the lastunlock, not only the filmmakers, but also the people seemed reluctant to visitcinema halls, as they are enclosed spaces. The initial stage of the Covid-19pandemic was bad, had accounted for many causalities and the media reportseveryday were not at all conducive to stepping out of the house, let aloneventure into a cinema hall. Besides, the few films that were screened by thedesperate cinema halls, were not worth the while even for normal times.

 People did not misscinema, the OTT platforms made sure they did not. What happened was that themajor OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon, which have been around in Indiasince 2016, gained popularity during the lockdown. Also, many more OTTplatforms sprang up during this time. The people looking for an alternative tocinema found a treasure trove of entertainment content from all over the worldon OTT and, not to let people miss cinema, these platforms started buyingpremiere release film rights of Indian movies.

 As things are comingback to normal now and many trades and industries are back in business with themasses back on the streets, the lockdowns are a forgotten thing as the onlyprecaution still insisted upon is a mask.

 Outside of cinemasand on the streets, there is no obvious sign of any restriction.

 However, for cinemas,it will be different as they will have to follow stringent norms even now. Alist of the elaborate protocols to be followed by the cinema managements is inthe works and will be released by the state government soon.

 The most damaging ofthese is the permission for only 50 per cent of the seat capacity to be sold(every alternate seat to be left empty). After all, what is the fun of watchinga big bill film like Sooryavanshi unless the house is full?

 With this 50 per centrestriction, It will make more business sense for the cinemas to engage bigfilms across all the screens on a property and can't have two films vying forthe same release date.

 For those who thinkthey need a break from the OTT bingeing and return to the good old cinemaexperience, here is the release line-up with dates of films announced so far(Courtesy Atul Mohan, editor, Complete Cinema.)

 2021

BHAVAI, Oct 22;SOORYAVANSHI, Diwali Nov 5; NO MEANS NO, Diwali Nov 5;  BUNTY AUR BABLI 2, Nov 19; SATYAMEVA JAYATE,Nov 26; TADAP, Dec 3; CHANDIGARH KARE AASHIQUI, December 10; 83 THE FILM,Christmas Dec 25; PUSHPA Part 1, Christmas Dec 25; JERSEY, Dec 31

 2022

GANGUBAI KATHIAWADI,Jan 6; RADHE SHYAM, Jan 14; PRITHVIRAJ, Jan 21; ATTACK, Jan 26;  LAAL SINGH CHADDHA, Valentine's Day Feb 14;JAYESHBHAI JORDAAR, Feb 25; BACHCHAN PANDEY, Mar 4; SHAMSHERA, Mar 18; BHOOLBHULAIYA 2, Mar 25; ROCKETRY, Apr 1; KGF 2, Apr 14; MAYDAY, Eid Apr 29;HEROPANTI2, Eid Apr 29; MAIDAAN, June 3; EK VILLAIN RETURNS, Jul 8; ADIPURUSH,Aug 11; RAKSHA BANDHAN, Aug 11; VIKRAM VEDHA REMAKE, Sep 30; RAM SETU, Diwali;GANPATH Part1, Dec 23

Visit news.dtnext.in to explore our interactive epaper!

Download the DT Next app for more exciting features!

Click here for iOS

Click here for Android

Related Stories

No stories found.
DT next
www.dtnext.in