On Friday, it was announced that the Ishaan Khatter and Ananya Panday-starrer, Khaali Peeli, which released in pay-per-view format on a digital platform, will be among the first films to arrive in theatres, which reopen after seven months on October 16. While cinemas in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and a few other states remain shut, exhibitors in other territories, who are short of content, are hoping the action thriller will bring in some crowds.
The film’s delighted producer, Ali Abbas Zafar says the film was always designed for a theatrical release, but because of the ongoing pandemic, they had to change their strategy. “But now, many of the exhibitors who saw it on the OTT platform want to screen it in their theatres and we are happy to oblige them,” he exults. Prod him on his expectations, commercially, and Ali reasons, “This is not about box office numbers anymore. It’s a test to see how many people return to the theatres, a kind of a warm up for the bigger releases to follow later in the year.”
Trade analyst Komal Nahta points out that there is no precedent to follow in the situation. “Going by simple logic, instead of re-releasing old films, it’s better to go for new content because penetration of OTT in India is not much. Any film that has already been released in cinemas has no future owing to its ‘second time’ tag,” he avers. According to Komal, this Diwali might see the release of three films: Diljit Dosanjh, Fatima Sana Shaikh, and Manoj Bajpayee-starrer Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, Kiara Advani’s Indoo Ki Jawani and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s production, Tuesdays and Fridays.
Akshay Kumar in Sooryavanshi; Vivek Oberoi in PM Narendra Modi; Ananya Panday, Ishaan Khatter in Khaali Peeli
That’s not stopping the makers of the PM Narendra Modi biopic. Featuring Vivek Oberoi in the titular role, the film had opened earlier on May 24, 2019, and will now re-release on October 15. “The decision to release is between exhibitors and producers; the government does not interfere. But, what better way than this film to welcome audience back,” exclaims producer-distributor Anand Pandit.
Exhibitor Akshaye Rathi shares that many producers have made their entire slate available for re-release, but exhibitors will take an individual call on this. “Now that even big-ticket Hollywood films like the Bond film, No Time To Die, Fast & Furious 9 and Jurassic World 3 Dominion have been pushed ahead by months, even a year, exhibitors may have to consider the option of re-releasing a film, produced by a top studio.”
Another trade analyst, Taran Adarsh, too, believes that it’s better to play a comparatively new film, like Khaali Peeli, that opened just two weeks ago, than to replay an old film. Rathi believes the film would have got good footfalls if the makers had held it back exclusively for theatres. “Right now, more than the impact of OTT, we need to gauge the impact of piracy. But with such baby steps, we can take giant strides towards normalcy,” he asserts.
Meanwhile, buzz is, some single screen owners in interiors have shown a keen interest in screening not just Khaali Peeli, but Akshay Kumar’s upcoming horror comedy, Laxmmi Bomb too, slated for a Diwali release on OTT, simultaneously in their cinemas. However, a source reveals that national multiplex chain owners have put their foot down, refusing to release a direct-to-digital film on the big screen. They are also wondering if playing Khaali Peeli could set a wrong precedent.
Rathi is insistent that hybrid releases won’t become the new normal because then theatres will become unfeasible. “A call will be taken by the associations, representing both producers and exhibitors, on this. We need to focus on the long-term scenario rather than short term returns,” he avers, while Komal adds that at the most, the 8-week window between theatrical and OTT will be reduced.
Meanwhile, Rohit Shetty’s cop thriller, Sooryavanshi fronted by Akshay Kumar, which was slated to arrive on Diwali, is not going to make it to theatres this year. The Kapil Dev biopic, ’83, featuring Ranveer Singh, still sticks to its Christmas release. Shibasish Sarkar, CEO, Reliance Entertainment, who’s one of the producers of both films, says, “We definitely don’t want to change the date of ’83 for Sooryavanshi. The sport drama is still slated to release on Christmas. We have to decide on the new date of Sooryavanshi with the director and actor, but the film should release between January and March.”
INCENTIVES TO GO TO A THEATRE TO WATCH A FILM
► To start with, ticket rates slashed
► Tickets free for frontline Covid-19 warriors, like doctors and cops
► In the beginning, when you buy two or more tickets, you will get to watch the next film free
► Couple or family can book seats together and adjoining seats will be kept vacant
► Three shows per day per screen as compared to five-six shows earlier
► Strict 50 per cent occupancy and no extra tickets will be sold even to accommodate families
► Enforcement of all government SOPs for safety of the audience
—Shared by PV Sunil, MD, Carnival Cinemas
In Photos: As Mumbai unlocks itself, Bollywood celebrities keep another essential handy – masks
Guess who’s behind the mask
As Mumbai eases itself out of lockdown, Bollywood celebrities have been spotted in and around town, donning the mask as per the guidelines issued. Be it taking your dog for a walk, en route to the gym or just stepping outside to catch a breath of fresh air, the mask has been handy in protecting oneself from the coronavirus. While a few celebrities have gone for the basic black and white, others have matched their masks to their attire with different colours or patterns. There are two celebs in this photo. Let’s see how good you are at this guessing game. After all, even this is part of our new normal. (Continue to scroll on for the right answers) Photo by Raju Shelar/ MMCL
Ananya Panday steps out of a salon
Mom and daughter – Bhawna and Ananya Pandey were spotted at a suburban salon in Mumbai. Did you also notice Peppa Pig? It won’t be the first time it has occupied a pride of place in Ananya’s life. Photo by Satyajit Desai/ MMCL
Who’s keeping Ananya Panday company?
In case Peppa Pig wasn’t very clear in the previous photo, here’s a close-up. And it’s not the first time Ananya Panday has shown her love for Peppa Pig. Photo Source: Yogen Shah
TV czarina Ekta Kapoor was spotted as she stepped out of a salon in Bandra. Photo by Raju Shelar/ MMCL
Sonal Chauhan was spotted in suburban Mumbai. Photo Source: Yogen Shah
Vidya Balan is upping the mask game by making sure the masks she wears go with her outfits. It’s also lovely to see her radiant smile which would otherwise be lost behind that mask. Photo Source: Yogen Shah
Spotted walking along Carter Road in Bandra, this is Sophie Choudhry. Photo by Raju Shelar/MMCL
Nimrat Kaur takes a stroll
Photo by Raju Shelar/MMCL
Varun Dhawan and Natasha
Varun Dhawan was spotted with Natasha Dalal were clicked in Bandra as they stepped out of a salon. Photo Source: Yogen Shah
Ready for some art attack at home?
It was a family outing for Arjun Rampal as he stepped out with Gabriella Demetriades, baby Arik and his daughter. They were snapped as they stepped out of a premium art supplies store. Photo Source: Yogen Shah
This one wasn’t easy to guess but we’ve made it easy by adding her name to the title itself. Shweta Bachchan was spotted in Bandra. Photo Source: Yogen Shah
Jaqueline Fernandes spotted in Bandra
Disha Patani clicked in Bandra
A breath of fresh air for Kareena, Tairmur