Around 3 weeks ago, Bollywood Hungama was the first one to report that Sooryavanshi, the much awaited action film starring Akshay Kumar and directed by Rohit Shetty, is all set to finally release on April 30, 2021. The exhibitors were informed about this new release date and were told to get ready to screen the first big Bollywood film post the pandemic. A few days later, on March 14, also Rohit Shetty’s birthday, a formal announcement was made by the makers. As expected, it led to frenzy among the trade, exhibitors and fans at large. After all, this is one film that has been hugely awaited by almost everyone since almost a year.
Sadly, a lot has changed in the last two weeks with regard to the Covid-19 situation in India. On March 14, the day Sooryavanshi was officially announced for April 30 release, India recorded 26,513 cases. At present, the country sees around 60,000 plus cases daily. In other words, the jump has been extreme. Maharashtra is the biggest hotspot and it shockingly recorded nearly 40,000 cases on Sunday March 28. And there are no signs of the cases receding or even plateauing. It was hence no surprise that the Maharashtra government declared a night curfew in Maharashtra, from 8:00 pm to 7:00 am. For cinema business, this is shocking as it would mean that the last show of the day would be at 5:00 or 5:30 pm. This, along with 50% occupancy, would mean poor collections of films.
And the worst might be yet to come. There have been reports that the state government in Maharashtra is mulling over a lockdown from April 2 or 3. That would mean cinema halls would once again be shut.
Even before the night curfew was declared, the collections in the North and Western belt have been disappointing. The Hollywood biggie, Godzilla vs. Kong, which released on March 24, ended up collecting a huge Rs 28.96 crore in 5 days but a chunk of it came mainly from the South. It gave a clear idea that releasing a mid-sized Bollywood film in such a scenario would be suicidal. The postponement of Bunty Aur Babli 2, scheduled for April 23 release, and Chehre, scheduled to release on April 9, gave an indication that the release schedule is all set to go for a toss.
Sooryavanshi is obviously a bigger film than Bunty Aur Babli 2 and Chehre and the question everyone is asking is – will it release on April 30 as scheduled? We asked the trade to comment on this issue. Trade analyst Taran Adarsh says, “There has been no communication from the makers after their announcement on March 14 when they informed that they are bringing Sooryavanshi to cinemas on April 30. There’s a lot of speculation within and outside the film fraternity. The exhibitors are of course very sad but then they also understand that the cases are rising. There’s also a night curfew going on in Mumbai. So, the evening and night shows are ruled out completely. Under these circumstances, I am sure the producers must be rethinking but as of now, there’s no communication.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan also states, “Right now, it’s too early to comment. Almost a month is left. The situation is bad and one can only hope that things improve.”
The makers of Sooryavanshi had admitted that they were ready to bring the film even if cinemas in most centres are operating at 50% capacity. But the addition of another restriction in the form of night curfew can prove detrimental.
Raj Bansal, the owner of Entertainment Paradise in Jaipur, sighs, “50% occupancy and on top of that no shows in late evening and night. The collections would go for a toss in such a scenario.” Atul Mohan meanwhile quips, “Due to the night curfew in Maharashtra, the last show is held at 5:00 pm. Earlier, the government offices used to function from 9:00 to 5:00 pm. Now, even the cinema halls are forced to function in the same time frame!”
Raj Bansal is not much hopeful about the scenario improving. He rues, “I doubt Sooryavanshi is releasing on April 30. The spread of the virus is increasing. Secondly, no one knows when these night curfews will end. Due to these factors, no one will take a chance of releasing their film in a month’s time.”
He adds, “Also, we saw the fate of Roohi, Mumbai Saga, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar and Saina. The collections were very bad; I couldn’t imagine that the occupancy would be so poor.” He then emphasizes, “Rajasthan is also under night curfew. Many places in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are also under restrictions. We still hope that these curbs would not go on till the end of April but as a producer, I would not take a chance. If I was the producer, I would have definitely postponed the film. As an exhibitor, I would of course want Sooryavanshi to release as I need this big film for my theatre.”
Taran Adarsh makes it clear that one should wait for official communication. He says, “There are so many stakeholders in Sooryavanshi. They’ll have to come together and take a call. Postponing a film again and again of course leads to a lot of discussion on social media but the producers also need to think for the betterment of the film. They are the parents. A film is like a child for them. They need to protect it, nurture it and give it out at the right time. So whatever decision the makers take, I am going to respect that.” He signs off by saying, “I would suggest that let’s wait for the official communication and let’s not speculate. Producers ko bhi waqt dijiye. Let’s hope for the best and let’s keep our fingers crossed.”
More Pages: Sooryavanshi Box Office Collection
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