This has been bad news for the filmmakers because they have several big ticket releases lined up, which they had hoped would help the Hindi film industry revive.
Coronavirus and Bollywood: Since the pandemic struck India in March last year, the Indian film industries, especially Bollywood, have been taking all things in a stride, be it the lockdown bringing shooting to a halt for at least three months or the closure of theatres, causing Bollywood to head the OTT way. However, it is now, when Maharashtra, the home to the industry and also a major market, is witnessing a spike in cases again due to a second wave of coronavirus, that the industry is worried. After nine long months, Centre had allowed theatres to operate at full capacity from February, but due to the rising cases, Maharashtra will continue to operate cinema halls at 50% capacity, at least till the end of this month.
This has been bad news for the filmmakers because they have several big ticket releases lined up, which they had hoped would help the Hindi film industry revive. The industry had just begun to be hopeful due to the vaccination drive that the country has been successfully carrying out, but the rising number of cases have again cast a shadow of uncertainty over Bollywood’s future for the time being.
Sanjay Gupta-directorial Mumbai Saga starring John Abraham is scheduled to be released on March 19. Amid these uncertainties, a report by news agency PTI cited Gupta as saying that the situation in Maharashtra was worrisome, adding that while the reduced theatre capacity is not a problem for them, they are concerned about the rising cases of COVID-19.
The industry has several releases lined up, including Saina, a biopic on Badminton player Saina Nehwal, Sandeep and Pinky Faraar starring Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra and Rajkummar Rao-Jahnvi Kapoor’s horror comedy called Roohi. Sooryavanshi, starring Akshay Kumar, and Ranveer Singh-starrer 83 are also slated to be released this year, after their releases were postponed for more than a year from their original dates in 2020.
Bollywood has been recuperating from the pandemic recently by conducting shoots while adhering to coronavirus measures, one of them being testing all of the cast and crew members before shooting. But the industry’s run has not been without hiccups, as several instances have been reported when the shooting had to come to a halt because one or more members of the team tested positive for the virus, as was seen in the case of ‘Jug Jugg Jeeyo’, during the shooting of which, veteran actor Neetu Kapoor and her co-star Varun Dhawan tested positive.
The added layer of worry for Bollywood is the fact that most of the actors reside in Maharashtra, where the rising number of cases threaten more exposure of actors to the virus. This warrants filmmakers to be additionally careful while shooting films, as any actor contracting the disease can bring the film to a halt for some time.
Notably, due to the closure of theatres and halting of filming for at least three months last year, Bollywood, which typically earns about Rs 3,000 crore a year, according to trade analysts, is estimated to have earned between Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 1,500 crore, meaning that the industry, which supports lakhs of people, lost out on at least 50% of the earnings it could have had if the pandemic had not struck. Since the industry functions on a lot of crew members working on a freelance basis, revival of the industry is highly important not just for filmmakers, but also for lakhs of people.