The films in the pipeline for May are Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, Sardar Ka Grandson, and Toofaan.
May could well turn out to be the most crucial for Bollywood as a lot that happens in the next few days could well define how the rest of 2021 would look like. There are as many as three movies, each of which is backed by a major name, releasing on OTT. Now, given the uncertainty around when will the pandemic ease out, and resultantly theaters would start opening all over again, all eyes would be on the way these biggies are received by the audiences.
These films are Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, Sardar Ka Grandson, and Toofaan. None of these three films was originally designed for OTT viewing but given the kind of situation that has emerged, especially in the last couple of months, they are now set to release on different platforms. Salman Khan's Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai releases on Eid (May 13), John Abraham-produced Sardar Ka Grandson arrives a few days later on May 18 while Farhan Akhtar's Toofaan (also produced by him) has already set its eyes for May 21.
If these three films, which arrive on ZEEPlex, Netflix and Amazon Prime respectively, indeed end up fetching good numbers then one can well expect more and more movies to be announced for straight-to-digital release as well.
Prabhudeva-directed Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai is seeing a hybrid release as ZEE Studios will also be releasing the film on the big screen at places where theaters are open. Though in India more and more states are going under lockdown, one waits to see whether the situation eases out in the next 10 days or so.
However, overseas, the film can see some good response coming its way. Theaters are open in UAE and USA, while even in the UK and Australia one can expect good traction by the time the Salman Khan action entertainer is ready to arrive.
For the audiences internationally who have been deprived of Bollywood releases meant for the big screen for over a year now, Radhe could well be something to cheer about. However, in India the film would be seen in a pay-per-view model to begin with free for all would be only after a few weeks. Meanwhile ZEE5 has rolled out a bundled package as well for its existing subscribers, so one waits to see how that works out for the audiences.
As for Sardar Ka Grandson, John Abraham knows that this is one film which will definitely find an audience on the small screen. Since the Arjun Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh starrer is a light-hearted entertainer with Neena Gupta in a key role as the granny of the house, this one makes for a family viewing. Nikkhil Advani has been known for bringing films on screen that explore Punjabi households, case in point being Kal Ho Na Ho and Patiala House. Hence, the ethos that his Emmay Entertainment (with Monisha Advani and Madhu Bhojwani) carries is visible.
For the first time director Kaashvi Nair (daughter of veteran filmmaker Shashilal Nair), it would be some exciting moments ahead as she waits to evidence the kind of response that audiences show on her feel good entertainer that traverses India and Pakistan, and also features producer John Abraham himself in a cameo along with Aditi Rao Hydari.
Unfortunate as it may sound, but lockdowns are back in the vogue.
As for Toofaan, it announced its OTT arrival quite some back itself. In fact, back then, the pandemic started waning. So, many wondered why he was not going ahead with a summer theatrical release plan for the film. However, it seems like Excel Entertainment [Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani] had some sort of providence of what could possibly lie ahead and hence stuck to the OTT plans instead of making any knee jerk reaction. Today, they seem to be in a safe place as the film's teaser has already worked well and audiences are excited.
However, while initial excitement is indeed there for these films, one waits to see how it all works out for Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, Sardar Ka Grandson and Toofaan. Unfortunate as it may sound, but lockdowns are back in the vogue. More and more people are working from home or staying put. As a result of that one can well expect the OTT viewing to be back to a high, as was the case last year too, especially in the peak of summer.
If these three films indeed manage to find some record viewing and result in an enhanced subscription base for the respective OTTs, then it won't be surprising if many more biggies decide to join the bandwagon as well. No wonder, it's going to be a crucial next 30 days ahead.
Joginder Tuteja is a trade expert and film critic, and loves to talk and write about anything that is related to films. Views are personal.