Bollywood is all set to hit back. And how! A couple of years back when Season One of Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket competition kick started, not many were prepared for its might. In fact the only film which succeeded in a major way despite the onslaught of the cricket matches was Emraan Hashmi starrer Jannat. Yes, the film was well made but its success was also primarily due to the fact that this film from the house of Bhatts dealt with match fixing and betting, something which was quite contemporary at its best.
However, Bollywood pretty much realised that with matches beginning from 4 PM in the evening and wrapping up around 11 PM in the night, it was futile to bring any new releases in theatres while the tournament was on. This is the reason why in 2009 there were no biggies announced in the duration was IPL was scheduled. It was a different matter that this time period also saw the stand off between producers and multiplexes which led to a total draught of movies in theatres. However, it was quite clear that even without the strike, no filmmaker with crores riding on his project would have dared to bring it up in theatres.
Comments an insider, “Yes there was this waiting period but then it only led to double trouble. First and foremost there was no software made available to theatres which means that Bollywood wheels stopped moving for a couple of months, hence bringing the incoming of any revenue whatsoever to a complete halt. It was a standoff of the worst kind as let aside A grade projects, even B grade films opted to wait in the wings. Secondly, soon after the closure of IPL (and subsequently the producers’ strike), there was an avalanche of film release.”
A bad phase
It was the survival of the fittest (and the biggest) due to which road was cleared first for biggies like New York, Kambakkht Ishq, Luck, Love Aaj Kal, Kaminey, Life Partner from June till August. This was followed by a total break down of machinery as an entire backlog of smaller and medium budget films, which would have otherwise released during the period of stand off, started jostling for space.
“It was a really bad phase”, continues the insider, “Things took a turn for the worse as regardless of the anticipated (poor) fate of their products, filmmakers started releasing their films in piles. It wasn’t a matter of two, three or four films releasing in a single week. The average stood at half a dozen films a week for number of weeks in succession and it wasn’t a surprise to even the makers that not many out of them managed to survive even beyond the first weekend. Flops and disasters were the order of the day and it took a Wanted to bring industry out of a slump.”
However, the damage had been done, quite a few filmmakers had turned broke, industry (which had already lost hundreds of crores due to IPL and strike) lost a lot more over the three months gone by, many actors came back home with their dreams shattered and Bollywood in general struggled to survive from its darkest phase of the current decade.
The fight back
This is the reason why things seem to be taking a turn for the better this year with Season 3 of IPL already on. Bollywood has smartened up and it is not allowing itself to be exhumed in the manner of the year gone by. It is making best use of the six weeks made available for itself before IPL concludes and biggies start making the round of theatres once again. However, smaller and medium budget films aren’t willing to be steamrolled later in the day when audience would have a choice to pick between the top stars/banners and them.
So let’s have a dekko at how Bollywood release calendar looks as of now. With the fickle nature of the industry, this could pretty much go through a modification in weeks to come but as of now, most of the films mentioned are confirmed for arrival on the said date, hence summing up to be an astonishing 30 odd releases in March and April!
While the month of March began with the release of Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?, Road, Movie, Rokkkk & Thanks Maa, the others that followed were Right Yaaa Wrong, Hide & Seek, Na Ghar Ke Na Ghat Ke, Do Dilon Ke Khel Mein, Swaha & Trump Card. Recent releases also included Shaapit, Love Sex Aur Dhokha, Lahore and Idiot Box. However, there hasn’t been much respite, as far as release calendar is concerned with weeks to follow being quite jammed packed as well, next week seeing half a dozen releases – Hum Tum Aur Ghost, Well Done Abba, Mittal V/s Mittal, Prem Kaa Game, The Great Indian Butterfly and It’s a Man’s World.
With a stuffed March out of way, one would have expected that April would be lighter due to IPL getting into a further exciting stage. Well, the rush is lesser here but still seeing larger number of film releases than a regular month. 2nd April would mark the arrival of Sadiyaan, Tum Milo Toh Sahi and Pankh. The week to follow becomes even more challenging with Prince, Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai, Apartment and Maalik Ek fighting it out.
Says Milap Zaveri, the young man who makes his debut as a director with Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai, “I am confident of my film because it is the first of its kind love story between a boy from Earth (Riteish) and a girl from Venus (Jacqueline). There is loads of comedy, music and romance! Also 9th April is lucky for Riteish and me as our first huge hit Masti (which was written by Milap) had released on 9th April in 2004.”
Tanushree Dutta, who is the leading lady in Apartment, is also extremely confident. “If a film is good then audience will certainly go to watch it in theatres. I am very positive about my film. In any case cricket and movies are two different things. Yes, in the past there have been instances when films haven’t released during the cricket season but then that could be because they were not supposed to be released then. Those who love movies will go for them regardless of cricket or any other event.”
This is the reason why the makers of Phoonk 2, Paathshaala and Muskurake Dekh Zara aren’t overtly worried about arriving on 16th April. The week to follow though just has a single release, Bird Idol, which is an animation flick. However, once IPL is through, Bollywood is all set for a big weekend ahead with Housefull releasing on 30th April.
No wonder, trade is hopeful this time around. Says a trade follower, “Amongst three, four or five releases which are hitting the screens every week, there is at least one notable release which is expected to take in moolah. Now this is a far better situation than the one we evidenced last year when films of the likes of Meri Padosan, Detective Naani or Team – The Force were rejected at the title stage itself! Of course there are multiple releases all through the IPL as well which means it would be the survival of the fittest. Still, at least films are giving each other a chance.”