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Will Bollywood bounce back to COVID-19? Insiders weigh in

“The show must go on,” top Bollywood star Akshay Kumar said as he unveiled his latest release, Laxmii, in November. But there’s a caveat – ‘the show must go on … even if it’s in the cinemas or in an OTT [over the top — term used for streaming services]”.

Welcome to the new norm facing the productive Hindi film industry as it begins to embrace 2021.

“After the industry has been in a closure for months, he is back in action and is now in full swing. Most of my colleagues started shooting again. So, the only way forward for Bollywood is work, work and more work, ”says Kumar.

The star led the way during the pandemic as an example while flying to the UK to complete the filming of his project ‘Bell Bottom’ with Vaani Kapoor, Lara Dutta and Huma Qureshi.

Kumar’s optimism seems to be the much-needed antidote to the sick Hindi film industry, which has suffered a setback due to constraints caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and the sudden denigration of the showbiz following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput on 14 June.

But the pollution of the industry, the halt in filming and the temporary closure of cinemas in India are a minor bump, say experts from the Bollywood industry that span the theater, distribution and production sections.

‘Bollywood is too big to be affected by smear campaigns … Things will return to normal within a few months after the COVID-19 situation improves. It’s a matter of time and we are confident that everyone will feel comfortable with the prospect of watching Hindi movies in cinemas again, ”said Dhruv Sinha, Head of Hollywood and Overseas Business at Reliance Entertainment.

Sinha’s production company has two major ticket releases appearing in cinemas – the biography ’83’ of Ranveer Singh directed by cricket legend Kapil Dev and a star-studded cop drama ‘Sooryavanshi’, directed by Rohit Shetty.

‘The truth is that every filmmaker and actor wants their films to appear on a large theatrical scale. This is still the dream of every actor. It’s just a matter of time before the revenue starts to come in as well, ‘added Sinha, who is confident Bollywood theaters will see growth in the coming months. They postponed two major films due to the pandemic. According to news reports, Bollywood suffered a loss of more than R40 billion (Dh1.9 billion) from mid-March to Diwali.

However, Ahmad Golchin, distributor of the UAE of Phars Films, which handles all the major Hindi film releases in this region, is cautiously optimistic.

“We are hopeful that conditions will improve in the next few months. We are slowly starting to get normal. I am positive that cinemas will survive, even though we suffered losses this year … It will take time for Indians in this region to return to the cinemas to enjoy the films on the big screen, ”says Golchin, founder and chairman of Phars Films. .

While his latest acquisitions – including Manoj Bajpyaee’s’ Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari ‘and Akshay Kumar’s’ Laxmmi’ – have seen an overwhelming number of admissions during the Diwali weekend, he is hopeful that big ticket films like ‘Sooryavanshi’ and ’83 ‘ things will make you shake. on.

“We will take some time to recover … But we are optimistic and hope that things will improve by the beginning of 2021. The recognition for ‘SPBM’ and ‘Laxmii’ since its opening has not been particularly good, but we hope things improve “he adds.

Nelson D’Souza, co-vice president (International Distribution), Yash Raj Films, points out that the films that have been broadcast since mid-March were not always intended for those platforms.

‘I feel there is hope for cinemas. Do not go for what was screened on OTT platforms during this pandemic. It was just the need of the hour since the cinemas closed. Fans of Bollywood movies still want to watch movies on the big screens, ”says D’Souza. Their production ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’, which was re-released in cinemas of the United Arab Emirates in celebration of the 25th anniversary, also received remarkable footsteps.

Actor Namit Das, who last appeared on director Mira Nair’s web series ‘The Suitable Boy’ on Netflix and played Ranbir Kapoor’s friend in ‘Wake Up Sid’, believes the future of Bollywood is bright.

“It’s back on its feet … There’s hope and positivity. We go through a phase where we started shooting and we come down to what the exclusion did for us. I do not see it so dark, ”says Das.

He adds that his projects, which were stopped in March, are already underway again and that the shooting has resumed.

Although many people believe that the Bollywood industry is working on benevolence and the aura of perfection around stars on the big screen, the pandemic and tragic death of a talented actor has put several idols under the scanner.

‘Bollywood does not work on goodwill, but on good stories … How can an industry that has existed since pre-independence have been working on goodwill for so many years? We can not just run on perceptions of people … These are just small setbacks, ”adds Das.

Nationally acclaimed actress Shabana Azmi, while promoting her psychological thriller ‘Kaali Khuhi’, claims that change is the only constant in life and in Bollywood.

‘I’m naturally an optimist like my father was and I see it as a cyclical thing. I think every industry goes through change every thirty years, nothing is permanent … The fact that the content is the main one eventually becomes real, ”says Azmi. “Everyone in this industry has realized that you need to invest in good content and this will lead to change. Look at all the interesting actors that are now available in the theater … Our obsession with urban western talents with rich people now makes way for small town aspirations. Our protagonists are changing from the beliefs to a much more real world. ‘

True to her observations, there are many movies set against the backdrop of small towns like Rajkummar Rao and Nushratt Bharuccha stars ‘Chhalaang’ on Amazon Prime Video.

‘This pandemic has taught me how important it is to adapt to new situations. If we do not adapt, we will be stuck in our own expectations and disappointments. Remember, we can always go out of a situation and find new ways to survive by adapting to the new normal, ‘says Bharuccha, as she promotes her film.

Dubai producer Arun Rangachari, who includes the award-winning ‘The Lunchbox’, expresses his belief that superstars such as Aamir Khan and Salman Khan have the power to re-establish the appeal of Bollywood films.

“Once Aamir Khan’s ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ and Salman Khan’s ‘Radhe’ are released, people will be flocking to the cinemas again … It’s just a matter of time,” Rangachari said.

Source: Gulf News

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