The dual shadow of Indian Premier League (IPL) and Indian general elections of 2009 over Bollywood are once again being played out in the year 2014. While the 16th Lok Sabha will unfold between April 7 to May 16, 2014, IPL will hold fort between April 16 to June 1, 2014. The latter had to relocate their venue to UAE (United Arab Emirates) due to security reasons. Shyam Shroff, director, Shringar Films, believes that much has happened since 2009. “The (movie) scene looks better now with economy in better shape, Sensex rocking and more multiplexes than in 2009.” he said.
The other difference is Bollywood’s perception of IPL and the General elections —the latter, they concede, is the bigger threat.
“IPL is no longer the big giant that threatened to eclipse film business,” says Girish Johar, Head, Distribution and Acquisition, Sahara Motion Pictures. “Over the years, the success of films like Ragini MMS, Shor in the City and Love Sex Aur Dhoka have made the IPL theory redundant. But elections are a different story. Not many will step out around that time to watch films as it causes apprehensions over security, traffic and noise. And though movies are a source of entertainment for the junta at large, it is paid entertainment and last on the priority list.”
Among the films releasing around the election season are the much-awaited films, that include Amitabh-Bachchan starrer Bhoothnath Returns, 2 States with Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, Rajinikanth’s Kochadaiiyaan and Subhashi Ghai’s return vehicle Kaanchi. But Shroff dismisses any notion of these films being affected by the polls. “I don’t think the elections will make a dent on box-office. On the contrary with Rs.30,000 crore being pumped in during elections, as per the recent media reports, the box-office would be better off, provided the movies have something good to offer. Secondly, the elections are well spaced out, and therefore it will not have pan India effect. Yes, the result day could affect the collections,” he elaborates.
Vajir Singh, trade analyst, points out that all the aforementioned films release in April, while election fever actually is at its peak in May. “Look at the films lined up for release in the month of May— you’ll not find a single big release in Hindi in that period because it’s a time when elections are at its peak. So the producers have planned their releases, fully aware of the election season. Releasing small budget, content driven films around this time makes more sense.”
Rajesh Thadani, distributor, feels it’s too early to predict the collatoral damage elections would wreak on films. “But yes, elections will make a dent in the business of films, impacting film promotions as well. The only thing dominating on television then would be elections, taking away any kind of scope or space to promote films. What will help a film rise above these limitations around this period, is its content,” he explains.
One of the films releasing during elections is Samrat & Co, a Rajshri Productions’ film. Says Kavita Barjatya, producer and writer of the film, “What has come to the fore in the research and analysis of the films that released in the past is that content works, not external factors like IPL and elections. The former has now become a regular feature. In fact, films like Houseful, Housefull 2, Jannat, Vicky Donor, ABCD – Any Body Can Dance (which I loved), Aashiqui 2 and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani did fantastic business despite the IPL season. Yes, elections can make a dent in the business but that’s only for a day and few shows. Fortunately, the polling in Mumbai is on April 24, and our film is releasing on April 25. The bottomline is that content works, and it is such a beautiful time in cinema that it does not matter whether there’s IPL, elections, stars, no stars in the film, people will come to see a good film.”
While Barjatya does not think that a loss of few shows would make a difference, Akshaye Rathi, distributor/exhibitor, feels that it would make a big difference to a big ticket release. “It’s a good thing that there’s no big ticket release happening around the elections. Unlike IPL, elections are not an everyday event. And it means a big deal in a democracy like India. Besides, it doesn’t end with the announcement of the new government. There’ll be victory rallies and election coverage in the media for the next 15 days after the election results are out. So, there’s no scope for a film to even get a presence in terms of promotions on television. And if it’s a big budget (Rs.50 crore plus) film with an A-list actor (Khans, Roshan, Kapoors and Kumar) in it, then there’s a lot at stake. The dent would be around 15 per cent to 20 per cent, which a big ticket release film cannot afford to have,” he explains.
A fact that film-maker Anil Sharma had to learn the hard way, when he released Singh Saab The Great last November. “Elections always affect a film’s business. The collections of my film Singh Saab...suffered in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chattishgarh, because of assembly elections that were held there last year. Life comes to a standstill with elections—everything from rallies to public meetings to transportations are centred around it. Elections are a cinema by itself, our humble versions don’t stand a chance against it. But yes, I have learned from this experience and will never release my films during elections,” vows Sharma, who has directed Gadar.
The industry has now trained its eyes on the biggies slated to release from June onwards, which they hope will make up for a low-key summer. These films include, Action Jackson, Humshakals, Kick and Singham 2 “The first big ticket film post IPL and elections is Prabhu Dheva’s Action Jackson, starring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha, which is slated to release on June 6. In fact, June-July-August are seen as the most lucrative months for big ticket releases, given the performances of films in the recent past like Cocktail, Bol Bachchan, Rowdy Rathore and Chennai Express in these months,” concurs Rathi.
Film releases during elections
Main Tera Hero
Yeh Hai Bakrapur
Kya Dilli Kya Lahore
Samrat And Co.
Kuku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayi
The Amazing Spiderman 2