Tuesday, July 26, 2005.
A day that turned into a nightmare for all Mumbaikars. The bustling city came to a grinding halt. Life was paralyzed. The city plunged into darkness. From shops to cafeterias to schools to banks to movieplexes, everything was shut for the next few days. The air, rail and road traffic came to a standstill. The losses were incalculable!
The storm refused to subside the next day. The rains continued to lash Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat…
So when the electricity was restored on Wednesday evening [at a few suburbs of Mumbai, the electricity hadn't been restored till Monday, August 1], the common man started coming to terms with reality. Rushing to the nearest grocery store and stacking up the day-to-day necessities was uppermost on his/her mind.
The torrential rains had harmed like never before, hundreds of people lost their lives… Amidst uncertainty, insecurity and confusion, the producers of three medium-budget films [7 ½ PHERE, SEHAR, …YAHAAN] decided to go ahead with the release of their films on Friday, July 29.
As I write this piece, a number of questions cross my mind…
- When the city got paralyzed on Tuesday afternoon, was it possible to re-schedule the releases to a latter date? Say, postpone it by a week or two. In any case, there's no major release this week [August 5], so could they've waited till the situation was under control?
- Was it the Diwali week that they had to release their films anyhow this Friday?
- The majority of people -- who had been rendered homeless and foodless -- would they first rush to a movieplex to watch a film, instead of setting their lives in order? That the commoner would choose to spend Rs. 125/Rs. 150 on a movie ticket, instead of looking at ways and means to quench his/her thirst with drinking water and food for his/her children and setting his/her house/shop/business establishment in order?
When survival is at stake, when life is in a quandary/on the edge, when you've to deal with human and financial losses, the idea of going to a cinema hall to catch a film doesn't even cross your mind. You seek entertainment or throng a movieplex only when you're in a sound state of mind.
Expectedly, the business of the three films was badly hit in Mumbai, Maharashtra and Gujarat. And also in parts of Madhya Pradesh. The morning and matinee shows at several theatres [in Mumbai] on Friday had to be called off due to the non-arrival of prints. In the case of 7 ½ PHERE, the prints didn't reach some theatres till Friday evening, thereby resulting in the cancellation of shows.
Day 2, Saturday saw the telecast of the cricket match between India and Sri Lanka and that too made a dent in the business, albeit marginally. Sunday again saw a heavy downpour, besides the India-West Indies cricket match.
On Monday, Day 4, Mumbai came to a standstill again. The rains refused to stop. The schools and colleges were shut, the offices didn't open, the movieplexes cancelled many shows due to lack of audiences, not many ventured out of their homes. Life was paralyzed again!
The rains did stop on Tuesday morning, but most people were skeptical about venturing out and getting caught if it rained again.
Not that the three films scored in the other circuits. At several centres too, the business of the films continued to remain on the lower side.
Making a film is important, but ensuring that your film gets an appropriate release is equally important. The producers may've had their reasons of releasing their films this Friday [in the wake of adversities], but it's their film that got hit in the process.
I am not trying to imply that the films in question would've emerged blockbusters had they released a week or two later. But there's no denying that the viewership would've surely shown an escalation than what it is now.