Bollywood Drives Hard

With several films lined up for release this IPL season,Bollywood appears to be seeing cricket as less of a threat

Written by PriyankaPereira | Published: April 1, 2013 10:30 pm

WHEN Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK planned to release their first film 99 in the midst of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) second season in 2009,they were dissuaded by many. “There were many people who advised us not to release the film then. But we went ahead with it. Our movie ended up doing average business. In retrospect,maybe it could have done better,” says Nidimoru. Their second film Shor in the City too released during the IPL season in 2011. At that time,the excitement around IPL was comparatively less. “This year,the IPL buzz seems to have completely died down,” feels Nidimoru,who will release his third film Go Goa Gone on May 10.

While Nidimoru and DK are taking the bull by its horns,they have plenty of support from other quarters. In fact,this IPL season also sees the most number of releases as compared to the last five years. While David Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor releases on April 5,two days after the inaugural match of IPL 6,Rohan Sippy’s Nautanki Saala clashes with Vipul Shah’s Commando on April 12. Bollywood’s biggest banners,Yash Raj Films and Dharma Productions also have releases planned in May,with Aurangzeb and Gippi respectively. Meanwhile,Balaji Motion Pictures has two co-productions up for release — Emraan Hashmi-starrer Ek Thi Daayan on April 18 and Sanjay Gupta’s multi-starrer Shootout At Wadala on May 1. “Over the years,films have been releasing during the IPL and faring well. We released Ragini MMS two years ago. This time,we have Ek Thi Daayan and Shootout At Wadala,” states Tanuj Garg,CEO,Balaji Motion Pictures.

The biggest of the lot is Bombay Talkies. This will see the coming together of four top filmmakers — Dibakar Banerjee,Anurag Kashyap,Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar — to commemorate Bollywood’s centenary year. Ashi Dua,owner,Flying Unicorn Entertainment,says,“Since May 3 is the day of the centenary,we had no choice but to release the film on that day. The thought of IPL did cross our mind,but I believe the tournament has now lost its novelty,owing to too many cricket leagues,” she says. Film distributor and exhibitor Akshaye Rathi believes films of different genre could do well in different regions. “Shootout at Wadala,Ek Thi Daayan and Aurangzeb should do well all over,while Commando could be a surprise draw in B and C class centres. Bombay Talkies can do well in the multiplexes in metros,while Zanjeer’s Telugu version (Toofan) should do well in Andhra Pradesh,because of Ram Charan Teja,” he predicts.

Ever since the IPL grabbed popular consciousness in 2008,the number of Bollywood releases during that period became fewer. Earlier,April and May were considered to be the best months for movie releases because of summer vacations. However,IPL forced producers to run for cover. “During the initial years of IPL,there were barely any film releases,” says Manoj Desai,owner of G7 multiplex in Bandra.

The first season of IPL witnessed two significant releases — Tashan and Bhootnath — and both bombed at the box office. The success of the first season of IPL deterred the release of big-ticket films during the second season. Big Cinemas even ended up telecasting IPL matches in multiplexes as an option for cinegoers.

However,the last two years have changed equations. In 2011,movies such as Dum Maaro Dum,Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Shor in the City released during the tournament but ended up making average business. The biggest jolt for IPL came when Sajid Khan released his big-budget fare,Housefull 2,a day after the IPL inaugural match and it went on to become one of the top-grossers of 2012,crossing the Rs 100 crore mark. Smaller films such as Vicky Donor,Jannat 2 and Ishaqzaade that released during the time earned well. Rathi says,“IPL is not as big as the World Cup. There are certain people interested in it and most people support specific teams. When they are not watching these teams in action,they can make time for films.” Nidimoru adds,“It may not be the fading interest in the IPL but the quality of cinema that pulls audiences to theatres.”

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