Announcement of direct digital releases of seven films including two major Bollywood films- Gulabo Sitabo and Shakuntala Devi has sparked a debate within the industry as several multiplex chains are alarmed and producers are upset at the "unconstructive messaging" from exhibitors.
Shakuntala Devi features Vidya Balan in the titular role of the mathematics genius whereas Gulabo Sitabo features Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana in the lead roles. Gulabo Sitabo will premiere on June 12 on Amazon Prime. Gulabo Sitabo and Shakuntala Devi are, however not the only films to premiere on Amazon Prime. Amazon country head Amit Agarwal revealed in a tweet, "First day, first show. We're premiering 7 highly anticipated Indian movies of this year on Prime Video." The other five movies are Penguin starring Keerthy Suresh, Jyothika's Ponmagala Vadhal, Sufiyum Sujathayum starring Aditi Rao Hydari and Kannada movies French Biryani and Law.
First day, first show! We're premiering 7 highly anticipated Indian movies of this year on Prime Video.
Which one are you waiting for?https://t.co/tVK7QGkAQv- Amit Agarwal (@AmitAgarwal) May 15, 2020
Apart from these films, reports also suggest that the Akshay Kumar-starrer Laxxmi Bomb, Jahnvi Kapoor's Gunjan Saxena, another Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Jhund and Ludo featuring Abhishek Bachchan and Rajkummar Rao may also choose direct-to-digital releases.
Two of the largest multiplex chains in the country, PVR and INOX expressed their disappointment after some producers decided to go for digital releases. Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of PVR Pictures told PTI, "Theatrical release is the best way for audiences to experience the labour and creative genius of our film-makers. This has been so for decades and not just in India but globally." He further said that exhibitors have urged producers to hold back their films till cinemas reopened.
After the news of Gulabo Sitabo's digital release, INOX was quick to express "extreme displeasure" and "disappointment" in its official statement.
STATEMENT BY INOX ON A PRODUCTION HOUSE'S ANNOUNCEMENT TO RELEASE THEIR MOVIE ON AN OTT PLATFORM BY SKIPPING THE THEATRICAL RUN pic.twitter.com/NfqoYV2QRx- INOX Leisure Ltd. (@INOXMovies) May 14, 2020
(Edited with inputs from PTI)