So what if there won't be any clash of the biggies at the box office this Diwali, there are still as many as four films which would be arriving on different platforms to keep the entertainment going for the audiences. With Diwali falling on November 14, there would be a four-way clash between Akshay Kumar, Abhishek Bachchan, Rajkummar Rao and Manoj Bajpayee right through the week leading to the D-day.
These films are Laxmii (new title for the film, which was originally titled Laxmmi Bomb), Ludo, Chhalaang and Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari.
Of course, theatrical releases have their own charm but with things still a bit far away from normalcy (albeit the COVID-19 cases falling rapidly now across the country), one can well expect movies to arrive in cinemas full throttle only around Christmas. Till then, the clash would be on the various OTT channels.
The ones in fray are Disney+ Hotstar (Laxmii), Netflix (Ludo) and Amazon Prime (Chhalaang), and one waits to see how soon ZEE5 also brings on Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari since that film is scheduled for a theatrical arrival.
Akshay Kumar-starrer Laxmii was the first to announce its arrival for Diwali 2020. Traditionally, the superstar has grabbed big holidays, with his last Diwali release Housefull 4 turning out to be a 200-Crore Club superhit. Now, he is bringing his debut straight-to-OTT release for Diwali and one expects nothing but 'dhamaka' on its arrival. The record for the biggest 'opening' ever for an OTT release was set by Dil Bechara a few months back when it was made available for free even for non-subscribers. To watch Laxmii though, a viewer will need to shell out money.
While Laxmii arrives on November 9, a few days later comes Anurag Basu's multiple-stories-converging-to-one-ending genre flick, Ludo. He had started the trend with Life... In A Metro many years back and though not many successors except Barfi could enjoy similar success, one waits to see how it turns out to be for the November 12 release Ludo which has Abhishek Bachchan (who has done a similar narrative style flick Yuva earlier). He is joined by Rajkummar Rao, Aditya Roy Kapur and Pankaj Tripathi along with Dangal girls Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra.
If the promo is anything to go by, the film could well turn out to be a dark horse this festive season but the film which should take a 'leap' indeed amongst the audiences when it comes to the fun quotient is Chhalaang. For Rajkummar Rao, it is going to be a double bill of sorts as he would be seeing two of his films arriving back to back, with Ludo immediately followed by Chhalaang on November 13.
For some, it could well be a surprise to see Hansal Mehta directing a comedy after Scam 1992. But, let's remember that he started his career with a sex comedy no less, Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai. With Luv Ranjan at the helm of affairs, Chhalaang stars his favorite leading lady Nushrat Bharucha in the lead along with Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Saurabh Shukla and Satish Kaushik.
Talking about comedies, the only movie that has actually been announced for a theatrical release this Diwali is Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari which is slated for 13th November. The last Bollywood release in theaters was Angrezi Medium which featured Irrfan Khan in the lead, and now the legacy is being taken forward by Manoj Bajpayee who would be seen in this light hearted film. He is joined by Diljit Dosanjh and Fatima Sana Shaikh (also being seen in Ludo just a couple of days earlier) in this Abhishek Sharma-directed film who is trying a different genre this time.
Though over the years there have been several big ticket Diwali releases like Akshay Kumar's Housefull 4 and 2.0, Aamir Khan's Thugs of Hindostan and Secret Superstar, Ajay Devgn's Shivaay and Ranbir Kapoor's Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, 2020 would be special as the battle would be fought primarily on the OTT medium with Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari as well as exploring theatrical as well as OTT medium. As the legendary filmmaker Raj Kapoor had mentioned that 'The Show Must Go In', this is pretty much happening for Bollywood too, albeit on OTT, in 2020.
Diwali releases of 2020
Laxmii - November 9 Ludo - November 12 Chhalaang - November 13
Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari - November 13
(Joginder Tuteja is a trade expert and film critic. Views are personal)