Having already lost crores of rupees due to the ongoing lockdown, enforced by the central government to check the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus, Bollywood appears to be bracing for its ripple effect in the weeks to come, especially in the first quarter of the new fiscal year. Regardless of whether the lockdown is lifted after April 14 or not, the worst is indeed yet to come for the world’s largest film industry, given its huge stakes in the next three months ahead.
In the crucial three months ahead -- from April to June -- several key movies are slated to release, which has the potential to make or mar many a career. The list includes the important projects of not only superstars such as Akshay Kumar and Ranveer Singh but also those of new kids on the block like Janhvi Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan.
Akshay has already faced a jolt with the postponement of Sooryavanshi, his eagerly-awaited actioner directed by Rohit Shetty, which also stars Ajay Devgn and Ranveer Singh in key roles. It was supposed to release on March 24 amid huge expectations but had to be postponed at the eleventh hour due to coronavirus outbreak.
There is no word yet on the next possible release date of Sooryavanshi and Akshay may well be in for a double whammy if it will have any bearing on his next, Laxmmi Bomb wherein he plays a transgender. The film is at present scheduled to release on May 22 but the shadow of the ongoing lockdown looms large on it as well.
Industry watchers believe that movie business may not return to normal immediately after the lifting of lockdown as and when it happens. It is also not certain whether the lockdown will be lifted on the theatres at the same time. And even if it happens, will the audiences go back to the theatres immediately thereafter to watch their favoiurite mega stars in action?
Like Akshay, Ranveer Singh is the other big star whose two big films have been struck by COVID-19. Apart from Sooryavanshi, Ranveer’s 83, director Kabir Khan’s ambitious movie on the maiden triumph of the Indian team led by Kapil Dev in the cricket World Cup 37 years ago, was supposed to hit the screens on April 10 following a massive publicity blitzkrieg. But it, too, has been deferred now.
Meanwhile, superstar Salman Khan was also racing against time to complete Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai to get it ready for the Eid release on May 22. Said to be a remake of South Korean hit, Veteran, it is being directed by Prabhu Deva but it is not certain if it will meet the deadline. Trade experts believe that many film-makers might prefer to postpone their big films by a few months under the prevailing circumstances.
Of the other big stars, John Abraham’s Mumbai Saga, a much-awaited gangster flick, is slated for June 19 and might stick to its original release date if things are normal by then. But that will be possible only if director Sanjay Gupta manages to finish the film on time. Already, the three-week lockdown has thrown all shooting schedules out of gear.
Worse still, it is the younger lot of stars who have the biggest stakes during this period. For one, Jahnvi Kapoor has two important movies – Gunjan Saxena and Roohi Afzana – slated for release on April 24 and June 5. Her career depends a lot on the box-office performance of these movies but both are at the moment bearing the brunt of the pandemic. Her co-star in Roohi Afzana, Rajkummar Rao has two other films, Ludo (April 24) and Chhalanng (June 12) scheduled for release within the next three months.
Like Jahnvi, Sara Ali Khan too has an important movie, Coolie No. 1 opposite Varun Dhawan, due for release on May 1. Debutante Sanjana Sanghi also has Del Bechara opposite Sushant Singh Rajput, which is scheduled to release on May 8.
Many industry watchers believe that situation might not improve before July from the business point of view because several big-budget movies, from Sanjay Dutt’s Sadak 2 to Ranbir Kapoor’s Shamshera are due for release then. But they too might face unexpected competitions if a few big movies deferred during the lockdown get released to set up a clash at the box office in the same month.