Bollywood BO report: First batch of films fight to survive

With news of theatres opening up, Bollywood producers wasted no time in announcing releases date of their films, which were in the pipeline due to lockdown. “Roohi”, “Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar” and “Mumbai Saga” were among the earliest big productions to test the water as box office business resumed.

However, Bollywood business isn’t off to a flying start. The audience, it seems, is still too cautious to venture to cinema halls what with number of Covid cases on the rise in many parts of India, notably Mumbai — the hub of film business.

According to the website Bollywood Hungama, the Rajkummar Rao-Janhvi Kapoor starrer “Roohi” managed a first weekend collection Rs 12.58 crore (nett), after releasing on March 11.

A week later, the John Abraham-Emraan Hashmi starrer “Mumbai Saga” has managed a weekend collection of Rs 8.74 crore (nett). “Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar”, starring Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra, opened below expectations. As per the website, the film’s first weekend collection is around 0.25 crore.

“I wouldn’t call releasing these films a hasty move. Things were looking quite good when these release date announcements were made. When the release came closer, there was a sudden rapid rise in Covid cases. Everyone was expecting that public with come to theatres but the outpour was not as expected,” says trade analyst Atul Mohan.

Keeping the current situation in mind, he feels that the industry “should wait, instead of taking risks”, and adds: “In the current situation, when cases are multiplying, we should ideally delay by a couple of more weeks.”

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh points out: “There have been restrictions and night curfews and these factors have affected the films’ box office business. Most importantly the scare of rising cases to a major extent deters the family audience and people in groups. Restrictions were not very prominent in the last week when ‘Roohi’ released.”

Does the current business of films spell a word of caution for the upcoming releases? “There is a huge line-up of films are awaiting. The producers’ fraternity is supporting the exhibitors. It’s a wait-and-watch situation right now,” he replies.