The world is in a perilous situation right now thanks to the Coronavirus outbreak. The pandemic has affected almost all countries and in the absence of a cure or vaccine, most governments are at wit’s end in trying to control its spread. With no other option, most of them are practicing social distancing to avoid people-to-people contact and also ultimately the rapid spread of Coronavirus. As a result, it has led to the closure of offices, educational institutions, public transport and also entertainment centres. Cinema theatres were one of the first ones to be shut and hence, the belief is that once the lockdown is gradually lifted, it’ll also be the last ones to be opened. That still doesn’t mean that films will start releasing in hordes. Audiences might be wary of visiting cinemas because of the scare. Also, the situation overseas is worse as places like USA, UK etc will take more time to bounce back. Since our films earn a chunk from these nations, most Bollywood films would be released only when there’s an improvement in the scenario in India and abroad.
With most people at home, the OTT platforms are booming. These giants have now begun to approach filmmakers of films that were to release in near future and offering them handsome remuneration to forgo theatrical release. A few of these producers who have big-screen spectacles lined up like ’83, Sooryavanshi and Radhe – Your Most Wanted Bhai have decided to wait for the theatrical release till the situation normalizes. But producers of Gulabo Sitabo and Shakuntala Devi have already decided to jump on the OTT bandwagon. A few more of them are reportedly in advanced talks.
In such a situation, one of the oldest and most reputed production houses of the country, Yash Raj Films (YRF), has taken a significant decision. A source says, “Like other banners, YRF too has been approached by various digital platforms to buy the rights of their upcoming films. However, they don’t feel it is fair for their films, made for big screen experience, to be consumed by viewers on their cell phones or laptops. Also, they care for the exhibition sector which has suffered arguably the maximum due to the lockdown. YRF team, including Aditya Chopra, don’t want to add to their woes.”
In fact, in a webinar last month, Rohan Malhotra, Yash Raj Films’ Vice President for Distribution, made it clear that they plan to release their long-delayed film Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, starring Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra, once theatres start.
The other films of Yash Raj Films up for release are Saif Ali Khan-Rani Mukerji-Siddhant Chaturvedi-Sharvari Wagh starrer Bunty Aur Babli 2, Ranbir Kapoor-Vaani Kapoor-Sanjay Dutt’s period actioner Shamshera, Ranveer Singh’s social comedy Jayeshbhai Jordaar and Akshay Kumar’s grand period action drama Prithviraj.
They are also on the verge of announcing a spate of big-ticket entertainers, as part of the 50th anniversary of YRF. “All these films are also on and the lockdown has not led to the shelving of any project,” assures the source and signs off.