While the I&B Ministry has issued revised SOPs for cinemas, allowing them to operate at full capacity, the state government, till the time of going to press, was yet to give a go-ahead to multiplexes and single screens with regards to the 100% seating capacity. However, the centre’s decision has made Marathi filmmakers hopeful of bringing the audience back to theatres as they gear up for long-pending theatrical releases and new projects.
Films ready; makers waiting for a green signal from state
Digpal Lanjekar, whose period drama ‘Jungjauhar’ wrapped up shooting just before the lockdown in March last year, says he wanted to release the film in 2020, but couldn’t. He says, “We were waiting for the government’s nod to 100 percent occupancy. ‘Jungjauhar’ is a film that needs to be watched with friends and family.”
Lanjekar adds, “Many film buffs also book tickets for such films in bulk and that wouldn’t have been possible with alternate seating. So, we had decided to hold back the release. With the new development, our team is now finalising a release date, and the film will hit the big screens soon.”
Another period film, the much-awaited Pravin Tarde directorial ‘Sarsenapati Hambirrao’, is also ready for release and the makers have breathed a sigh of relief with the new directive. Tarde says, “Ours is a big budget and big screen film. So, it was obvious that we’d release it in theatres and for a bigger audience. The 100 per cent occupancy will allow viewers to enjoy the historical saga as it should be. At the same time, it will also help makers in making fair returns at the Box Office.” The team is planning to release the teaser on Feb 19 and is eyeing a June release, as of now.
Will big Bollywood releases result in a longer wait for regional films?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many films that were supposed to release around the summer vacation time last year were postponed. Among them, prominently, were the Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif starrer ‘Sooryavanshi’, directed by Rohit Shetty, and Kabir Khan’s ’83’, with an ensemble cast headlined by Ranveer Singh. With the new directive, it’s obvious that these films will be eyeing release dates soon. So, will that result in regional films being pushed further?
Aditya Sarpotdar, who has three films, ‘Zombivli’, ‘Maheshcha Badla’ and ‘Unaad’, ready for release, feels that though releasing a film to full occupancy immediately is tempting, he is not willing to pit his films against the big Bollywood outings. “We shall wait for movies like ‘Sooryavanshi’, ‘Satyameva Jayate 2‘ and ‘Radhe’ to release, and then present ours. These movies will reinstate movie goers’ faith in cinema halls, and sort of normalise the process of watching movies on a big screen again. Subsequently, it will benefit regional cinemas. All my films will be spaced out between June and November,” he says.
On the other hand, Tarde believes it doesn’t matter if there’s a Bollywood film releasing on the same day as that of a Marathi film. He says, “I am confident about Sarsenapati Hambirrao doing business even if there’s a big Bollywood release around the same time. My previous films, ‘Deool Banda’ and ‘Mulshi Pattern’, had released with films like ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ and ‘2.0’ and still did well. We are in talks with single screen cinema owners too and are positive that they’ll reopen their doors before our movie releases. That will also help in more viewership.”
I am sure people will return to theatres and follow safety guidelines. We are planning to begin promotions of Panghrun soon and may release the film around April
— Mahesh Manjrekar, filmmaker
We will begin releasing four films – Shrimati Umbrella, Return Journey, Vidyapeeth and Adkitta – from April. With 100 per cent occupancy, we are looking at better viewership and returns. I feel filmmakers can now confidently schedule films for release