Bollywood as always known for its prolific movie sets, has been paralysed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic that has hit the world.
Producers have postponed movie release date keeping fans on suspense, movie theaters have shut their doors, production companies have called off shoots, and film studios have delayed releases — including the debuts of at least two major films that were expected to carry the season
Sooryavanshi’s release was postponed indefinitely. So was that of 83, director Kabir Khan’s sports biopic about India’s World Cup-winning cricket team, starring real-life superstar couple Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone.
The film was to premiere on 10 April.Speaking on the YouTube channel, Film Companion, Khan said it had been “very disappointing” to make that call.”We were really itching to show the film to the world. But some things are way bigger than all this. The whole planet today is on standstill so I think watching a film becomes a much lower priority. It’s not just film releases that were affected.
Actress Deepika Padukone has said she considers herself “lucky” because she was due to fly to Sri Lanka to start shooting her new movie, days before India’s lockdown began.
“The great thing is that we hadn’t left Mumbai. We weren’t stranded somewhere else. I know a lot of people who had literally a few days of shoot left to actually get done with a film,” she told journalist Rajeev Masand in a recent interview.
Film stars have suddenly found themselves with time on their hands – and they are filling their social media feeds with snippets of their life at home.
The pandemic has likely cost India’s film industry more than $330 million in lost box office revenue and canceled production shoots, according to Komal Nahta, a film trade analyst and television host of “ETC Bollywood Business.”
More than 1,800 movies were produced in India in 2018, according to Statista, a research and data website. That was more than any other country’s film industry that year.
While Hindi-language Bollywood films dominate the industry, there are other significant players, including the regional hub Tollywood (Telugu language), along with films made in Marathi, Bhojpuri and Bengali.
All told, box office revenue in India was estimated to have reached $1.4 billion in 2019, a nearly 12% increase over the year before, according to an annual report published by the consulting firm Ormax Media. Most of that came from Indian films; Hollywood represented just 15% of that amount.
Many in the film fraternity are also doing their bit to help. Akshay Kumar and Anushka Sharma donated money to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s national fund for the millions of daily-wage workers who have been left jobless by the lockdown; and many of their colleagues have contributed to a fund set up by the Producers Guild of India to support daily-wage earners in the industry, such as technicians and assistants.
But given the speculation that the lockdown will be extended, producers are already anticipating major changes to the way Bollywood will operate.Filmmaker Karan Johar was supposed to start shooting his next film Takht – a big period drama – this April. His team had already started constructing sets in Europe, but speaking to Rajeev Masand, Johar said he was unsure about the future: “We had a palace in Florence that we were shooting in and we were shooting in Spain at the Alhambra. We had recced this for two years. It’s not one of the major concerns one should have right now. It’s what happens.”