On the eve of ‘83’ release, Bollywood remains cautiously optimistic

On the eve of ‘83’ release, Bollywood remains cautiously optimistic

Omicron is worrying but the industry believes these are still early days as some big-budget films await release.

On the eve of ‘83’ release, Bollywood remains cautiously optimistic On the eve of ‘83’ release, Bollywood remains cautiously optimistic

Aman Gill is remarkably composed and does not give an impression of a man whose movie is scheduled to be released later this month. He is the co-producer of Jersey, a Shahid Kapoor starrer and a remake of a Telugu film with the same name. The film industry has been amongst the worst hit since early last year and just when things seemed to look up, the threat of Omicron playing spoilsport is the new twist in the tale.  

“It is quite clear the audience is back in the theatres. Just look at the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home and that is evidence of what is going on,” says Gill. His film, with an estimated budget of Rs 35-40 crore, is to hit theatres on December 31 and with cricket at the centre of its theme, expectations are understandably high. “We are on track for the release and things will change if anything is announced by the government. It is business as usual for every industry including entertainment,” is his clear view. 

The extent of the seriousness of the new variant is unknown and everyone speaks of being patient. According to Tushar Dhingra, Founding CEO, Dhishoom Cinemas, a multiplex chain in north India, the scenario is not very clear and, on the face of it, there is no slowdown in activity. One is a day away from the release of 83, the Kabir Khan directorial venture based on Indian cricket’s massive moment of winning the world cup in 1983. The film was to be released almost two years ago and has resisted some very lucrative offers from OTT platforms – on a budget of Rs 125 crore, the money on the table is said to be at least twice that number. Ranveer Singh, one of the biggest names in Bollywood, plays the role of Kapil Dev and the film is certain to be big on sentiment. Dhingra himself is quite bullish about the film and says there is no perceptible difference in the enthusiasm from the audience. “There are no cancellations and a clear picture will emerge over the weekend. Till then, no one can say how it will play out,” he adds. 

Understandably, the bruise of the last 18 months has resulted in a more cautious and measured approach towards the business. Manoj Desai, a producer and executive director of the Mumbai-based G7 multiplex and Maratha Mandir, has a slightly different point of view. The audience, he insists, is still a little nervous. “Yes, there has been success with Sooryavanshi and a lot of hope rests on 83. However, one cannot get away from the fact that the dependence on a centre like Mumbai is substantial and this is where the number of cases is on the rise,” he explains. The optimism does exist but with a generous helping of apprehension and that is perhaps the best way to sum up the situation. 

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