With worldwide collections over Rs 340 crore so far, Brahmastra has brought with it happy tidings for an industry starved of good news. And, with several big-ticket festive releases in the pipeline, Bollywood is ready for the fireworks as the year draws to a close.
Diwali will bring Akshay Kumar-starrer Ram Setu and Ajay Devgn- and Sidharth Malhotra-starrer Thank God, both hitting the big screen on October 24, and Vivek Agnihotri’s The Delhi Files plus DC superhero film Black Adam on October 21. While this may be a turn away from the usual Shah Rukh Khan Diwali release, the films are expected to bring the audiences back to theatres.
The party promises to continue well into January next year, with films across languages and genres hitting theatres. Expectedly, multiplex owners are upbeat about the upcoming releases. Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR, said this will be the first festive season in two years that cinemas will operate without restrictions. “Festivals are a time when families bond with each other and cinema is primarily a family entertainment medium; they complement each other. People are in a buoyant mood and like to eat out and watch movies with their families. There is an exciting movie line-up in the October to December period in multiple formats and appealing to all segments of the audience.”
Positive on upcoming releases, Rajender Singh Jyala, chief programming officer at INOX Leisure, said, “We have high expectations from upcoming big films Vikram Vedha, Pippa, Adipurush, Pathaan, and from international films like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Black Adam and Avatar: The Way of Water. All these are releasing on important festive dates like Diwali, Christmas, New Year or Republic Day.”
Since most of these are big-budget films with a larger-than-life appeal, the coming months could turn things around for theatres and filmmakers. There are nine films from the South this Diwali and four from Bollywood.
While Shah Rukh Khan traditionally had a release on Diwali, Salman Khan on Eid and Aamir Khan on Christmas, the pandemic broke this festival monopoly. Akshay Kumar, however, continues at his pace of year-round releases. In 2020, none of the Khans had any release as films moved to OTTs, apparently not wanting to abandon their big-screen presence. In 2021, Salman Khan returned with Radhe on Eid and Antim: The Final Truth in theatres in November. Both, however, failed at the box office. Shah Rukh and Aamir gave 2021 a pass as well.
This year, while Salman Khan has moved his Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan release to December 30, Shah Rukh Khan has had no releases, but only cameos in Brahmastra, Rocketry and Laal Singh Chaddha. The next year, however, looks promising for him as he is expected to release Pathaan on January 25.
Film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh said the Khans can no longer monopolise the festive dates. “The festive season has always been very lucrative and beneficial for the film industry, but now things are changing. Post the pandemic, a lot of films got delayed and did not progress as per schedule, releasing when ready. There are 52 Fridays and several films in the pipeline; they cannot keep hanging forever. Festive season definitely adds to the business, but content must speak for itself. However, one cannot deny that business is optimum right now and both Ram Setu and Thank God are big films with A-list stars.”