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Virus cloud over Roohi and Mumbai Saga, all eyes now on Saina, Chehre and Haathi Mere Saathi

Roohi and Mumbai Saga’s release coincided with a spike in coronavirus cases but the makers decided to stick to a theatre release. Saina, Chehre and Haathi Mere Saathi are next in line and their performance will have a bearing on other releases

March 21, 2021 / 12:09 PM IST
Chehre releases on April 9. (Image: Emraan Hashmi Twitter)

Chehre releases on April 9. (Image: Emraan Hashmi Twitter)

Chehre releases on April 9. (Image: Emraan Hashmi Twitter)

It was a moment to celebrate for the Hindi film industry when Roohi was released on March 11. As it was the first major release of 2021, the Rajkummar Rao, Janhvi Kapoor and Varun Sharma starrer was promoted and pitched well by its makers Dinesh Vijan (Maddock Films) and Jio Studios.

Mumbai Saga director Sanjay Gupta and producer Bhushan Kumar went even further in pumping up the jam. The John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi affair was already big on star appeal and with the action and drama promised by Gupta, it seemed right when the film's release were moved from OTT to theatres.

Both films are running in theatres and are also battling it out with the spike in the coronavirus cases. When the release dates were announced, infections were at their lowest since the outbreak. The government had allowed full occupancy and audiences had begun trickling in, bringing relief to single screens as well as smaller multiplexes. Several big releases were expected to follow.

But Roohi and Mumbai Saga’s release coincided with COVID-19 cases peaking to a four-month high. When Roohi was releases, the situation was better. Mumbai Saga, released on March 19, comes as alarm bells are ringing over the spike, especially in Maharashtra, one of the two core hubs for film releases. The other is the Delhi and its suburbs.

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As a result, Roohi and Mumbai Saga numbers are much lower. Horror comedy Roohi stands at around Rs 19 crore. In normal circumstances, it could have easily gone past Rs 40 crore. The film grew over the first weekend and stayed stable over the weekdays, which indicates that for the target audience it worked.

Mumbai Saga has collected Rs 6 crore after two days. This is the film that has suffered the most due to the pandemic situation. As the name indicates, it has a Mumbai storyline and India’s financial capital is again one of the worst-hit by the surge in COVID-19 cases, leading to restrictions like night curfews. Several cinemas, especially single screens where the film’s target audience is to be found, are not open in Maharashtra.

In these circumstances, it was rather brave of the films’ makers to stick to the release plans. Dinesh Vijan held on to his entire suite of films for theatrical releases despite lucrative offers from the OTT medium.

John Abraham, too, has been vocal in saying he is ‘not an OTT subscription hero'. Bhushan Kumar said they opted for a theatre release because it was one sector that needed revival.

The question now is how will the audience react to next three films—Saina, Haathi Mere Saathi and Chehre, which are precariously close to release.

Saina is again a Bhushan Kumar production.  With Parineeti Copra playing shuttler Saina Nehwal, this is the first release for the family audiences.

Haathi Mere Saathi has been ready for a while and the makers (Eros) have always been sure about the theatre-only release of Hindi, Tamil, Telugu trilingual. As for Chehre, it has beaten the direct-to-OTT rumours to opt for theatres.

Saina and Haathi Mere Saathi release is on track and they hit the cinemas on March 26. Chehre arrives on April 9 and boasts not only of one of the best promos but also an impressive cast—Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi. Directed by Rumy Jaffrey, the film promises to be a thrilling drama with some nail-biting suspense and technical finesse.

Promos or no promos, the audience will be the final judge and the performance of these films will decide how and when the big ones begin to roll.
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.
first published: Mar 21, 2021 12:09 pm

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