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Rush Hour

In our cinema-crazy country,it hardly so happens that movie buffs can’t recall the names of all the films due for release on the weekend.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza |
March 30, 2009 3:19:31 am

The month of March,usually a low phase in Bollywood,courtesy exams,has seen over 15 films release

In our cinema-crazy country,it hardly so happens that movie buffs can’t recall the names of all the films due for release on the weekend. But this March has been an exception as the box-office witnessed up to five or six releases a week,pulling up the total count to over 15 films this month.

An unusual phenomenon,experts are attributing this to the indefinite multiplex strike that begins on April 4. Many small budget films,like Firaaq,Barah Aana and Little Zizou,have instead chosen to release before the strike begins.

“Yes,many small-budget films release now because they often survive on the urban multiplex audience. With the multiplex screens going blank in a couple of days,they’d rather have their films out now,which is why you see a crowded itinerary this March,” says Shunali Shroff,spokesperson of Fame Big Cinemas.

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The only big budget film to release in this lean period is Percept Picture Company’s Tasveer 8X10. An Akshay Kumar-starrer by Nagesh Kukunoor,Tasveer’s release has been timed to evade the strike by just one day,on April 3,and cash in on the multiplex audience.

Shailendra Singh,joint MD of PPC,says that he had been toying with the idea of postponing the release for the same reason. “I didn’t want to cause any delays and hence requested the board to allow my film to release. In times of recession,Percept needs everyone’s support to fight this battle,” says the head honcho.

Such a crowded month is surprising more so because it’s the exam period and is almost always taken as a lean phase in Bollywood. March and most part of April usually see select number of releases,with most big films timed for the holiday season that begins in May. Hence the long list of potboilers,like Yash Raj’s New York,UTV’s Kaminay and Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kambakht Ishq,are all scheduled during that phase. The big budget films,by postponing their release,also manage to avoid the strike as well as the cricketing Indian Premier League season.

Trade analyst Ashok Pandit also points out that a possible reason for the small budget films to have released in dozens could be the fact they won’t face any potential competition for the big sharks. “It isn’t that time of the year when audiences will fill up the theatres. So this is the best time for substantial films like Barah Aana to release so it doesn’t get overlooked under the shadow of a big multi-starrer film”

Besides,experts are also noting that unlike last year,the market for smaller films has been losing punch,post Ghajini. Many don’t have takers any more (case in point: Kukunoor’s Aashayein was dumped by Reliance’s Big Films. It’s now being released by PPC) and want to release as soon as possible to recover all possible money before the market dwindles further.

Shroff agrees but asserts that marketing has a huge role to play in the dwindling scenario. “A small film will see audience this year only if it’s made and marketed doubly well. It’s a good thing that substantial movies have released in a beeline now.”

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