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You'll have to wait longer for films like Sooryavanshi, till then enjoy smaller theatrical offerings

So far, it is only smaller ventures that have kept the Bollywood flag flying as big-names releases wait for theatres to allow larger audience.

January 17, 2021 / 01:53 PM IST

Tamil superstar Vijay’s Master is doing well at the box office but it will be sometime before big Bollywood films find their way into theatres. Producers of films like Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi, Ranveer Singh’s 83 and Salman Khan’s Radhe are willing to wait for cinema halls to start operating at 100 percent capacity.

Producers of big Bollywood films are ready to wait a little longer until major states allow theatres to operate at full capacity, analyst Karan Taurani, Vice-President, Elara Capital, said. Even 75 percent capacity might work for such producers as average pan-India weekend occupancy was normally around 60 to 65 percent, he said.

“Large producers won’t risk until they get 100 percent occupancy. They have waited for so long. So, they will wait a little longer,” Taurani said.

Taurani added that 50 percent occupancy was enough for medium budget films and they were already in talks for theatrical release. One such small venture ready to release in theatres is Richa Chadha’s Madam Chief Minister on January 22. Mere Desh ki Dharti starring Divyendu Sharma is also going to hit the screens the same day.

So far, it is only smaller ventures from Bollywood that have kept the wheels turning. Films like Chadha’s Shakeela and Seema Pahwa’s directorial venture Ram Prasad Ki Tehrvi have been entertaining the Hindi-speaking audience.

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Released on New Year's day, Ram Prasad Ki Tehrvi  collected around Rs 15 lakh on its opening day. The occupancy was in the range of five to six percent on day one. So far, the film has collected around Rs 30 lakh. On the other hand, Shakeela which released on December 25 has done a lifetime collection of around Rs 33 lakh.

Other small Bollywood ventures like Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, which was the first Bollywood release after cinemas reopened, and Indoo Ki Jawani collected around Rs three crore and Rs one crore, respectively.

Though the smaller Bollywood ventures that have released in theatres have not made profits, these films, which are made on shoestring budgets, have the option of releasing on over the top (OTT) platforms where they can recover costs. However, for big Bollywood ventures the main driver of revenue is the theatrical release.

While the collections of these films may not seem big enough, what is interesting is that the smaller ventures are releasing in more screens as compared to pre-COVID period. Both Shakeela and Ram Prasad Ki Tehrvi showed on around 1,000 screens, which would not have been possible in the pre-COVID scenario as majority of the screens are occupied with big Bollywood ventures.

In fact, smaller ventures are getting around 60 percent more screen count as compared to pre-COVID period, say experts.

The business that the smaller ventures have done at the box office may be not be strong enough but it is only these offerings that are keeping Bollywood flag flying in these times.

When it comes to regional markets, producers have released small ventures as well as big-budget offerings in theatres, including Master.

But Bollywood is not willing to step out with big name offerings. So far, only one star-led film Jersey featuring Shahid Kapoor has announced the release date. The film will be releasing in theatres for the Diwali holiday on November 5.
Maryam Farooqui
first published: Jan 17, 2021 01:51 pm

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