Salman Khan’s Radhe was supposed to be the big Eid release of 2020. It was put on hold due to theatres remaining shut from March to October 2020 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. While everyone hoped that things will get better in 2021, the spike in cases over the past month has again posed a big question mark for the film industry. Several big budget films have been holding off their releases even after the theatres reopened. Without the assurance of a certain audience turnout, it is a risk no one wants to take.
Maharashtra reported 59,907 new Covid-19 cases on April 7. The state government has announced new guidelines, and theatres will remain shut till April 30. Salman said during a press meet on Wednesday that the release of Radhe might be pushed to next Eid if the lockdown continues. Radhe was slated for a May 13 release this year, but that won’t happen if the lockdown extends.
Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh starrer ’83 were supposed to be the two biggest releases in the beginning of 2020. It has been a year already since their releases were postponed due to the pandemic, and their fate still remains in limbo. The release date of Sooryavanshi was announced, only to be held up once again due to the fresh spike in cases. The Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif starrer cop action drama, which was supposed to be Bollywood’s first mega release of the year on April 30, has been pushed again, with no new release date announced.
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray had a discussion with director Rohit Shetty as he “took the brave and difficult decision of postponing Sooryavanshi owing to the current COVID situation in the state,” a statement issued by the makers of the film said. The makers are now assessing the situation. They will make a formal announcement around April 10 if they plan to drop the film directly on OTT irrespective of whether it gets a theatrical release. If the film opts for a digital-only release, that will be one big business opportunity missed for theatres.
When cinemas gradually opened after last year’s lockdown, release dates of several films were announced, while some of the big budget ones were waiting for situation to go back to normal. They had reason for caution. ‘Mumbai Saga’, among the first big commercial films to release in cinemas, fared below expectations.
Other films which were to open over the next few weeks were postponed even before the Maharashtra government officially decided to shut down halls owing to the second wave of Covid-19. These include the Amitabh Bachchan-Emraan Hashmi starrer Chehre, Rani Mukerji-Saif Ali Khan’s Bunty Aur Babli 2 and the Hindi version of Rana Daggubati’s Haathi Mere Saathi. India releases of Hollywood films like Mortal Kombat, Nobody and The Croods: A New Age have also been postponed.
Maharashtra is a major market, the home of Bollywood and gives a major share of revenue for the film industry. Several other states, including Delhi, have also reimposed restrictions and night curfews to combat the second wave. Cinema halls were yet to regain their pre-pandemic footfall when cases started increasing again. In many ways, it looks like we are back to square one after one year.