Bollywood may be famous for its song-and-dance routine but clearly, 2020 hasn’t given it any reason to be joyful, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, with the year being virtually over, and no clarity on theatres reopening, many Bollywood biggies have already started to pre-book 2021 release dates. Officially speaking, till now, 2020 has only two releases — Sooryavanshi and ’83 — slated for the Diwali and Christmas weekends, respectively.
To start with, 2021 will see Akshay Kumar-starrer Bell Bottom hitting theatres on April 2. Then, the Ajay Devgn-starrer sports drama, Maidaan will open on August 13, even as talks are rife that Salman Khan-starrer Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai could hit theatres either around Republic Day, or during the
Aamir Khan, too, has blocked the 2021 Christmas weekend for his next, Laal Singh Chaddha that has got delayed due to coronavirus. Kumar’s new film, Raksha Bandhan with filmmaker Aanand L Rai will open on November 5. Also, Vikrant Massey-Kriti Kharbanda starrer 14 Phere is to release on July 9. Experts, on their part, feel moving on to the 2021 film calendar “is the most logical, natural move” by filmmakers.
As trade analyst Taran Adarsh puts it: “We are left with just about four months of 2020. So, what do you expect the makers to do, especially those who still have some bit of shooting left? They will, of course, look at the next year. Also, hopefully, from January 2021 onwards, there will be a lot more clarity about how the cinema business goes ahead.”
Maidaan producer, Boney Kapoor, is clear about why he will stick to a theatrical release. “I really look forward to having my audiences experience the magic that all my films, including Maidaan, would bring to celluloid. A film such as Maidaan has huge global appeal, and I am not talking just about the Asian/South Asian diaspora. So, our aim is to release it simultaneously across the world,” he says.
Industry insiders feel
what’s going to be “most important” for the film business/exhibition sector is to have a constant flow of fresh Bollywood content once theatres reopen. “And if that means spreading new Hindi film releases across in an even manner, it’s absolutely fine. Besides a couple of Hindi films and two-three Hollywood biggies, 2020 is, anyway, practically over for us. We need more announcements from top stars and have them start shooting at the earliest,” says exhibitor-distributor
Besides the new films with release dates, a number of new films — minus release dates — such as Ayushmann Khurrana’s yet-untitled next, Prabhas-Deepika Padukone starrer new film, Devgn’s next on Galwan Valley clash, Phone Bhoot and several others have also been announced. Then, there are other projects,
which are stuck due to the pandemic, without an official release date.
“I feel, there may be a rush to have films out in theatres, especially since movies haven’t had a theatrical
release in 2020. I hope that the film industry works together, like a team to avoid clashes, etc.,” says filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, who has Sardar Udham Singh coming up next.
The same story in Hollywood, too!
Not just Bollywood, for Hollywood, too, 2020 is seemingly over as they eye 2021 by moving their release dates in bulk. And the list includes Tom Cruise-starrer Top Gun: Maverick, Emily Blunt-starrer A Quiet Place Part 2, Antlers, Ben Affleck-Matt Damon starrer The Last Duel, Fast and Furious 9, Jared Leto’s Morbius, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, among others. Besides, a few such as epic adventure Mulan and horror flick Antebellum have taken the digital route. “The situation is very fluid right now. But cinema lovers’ response to films in countries such as South Korea, Japan and China gives us confidence that things will be fine,” says Rathi.