By Priyanka Bhadani
After almost six years, one of Ketan Mehta’s most ambitious project, Rang Rasiya will hit the theatres on November 7, 2014. Held up since 2008, the film — a biopic of artist Raja Ravi Varma — was initially delayed by the Censor Board because of its bold theme. Another film, Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain directed by Ravi Kumar, that is inspired by the real story of the chemical spill in Bhopal, that took the lives of almost 15,000 people and injuring more than 100,000, will be releasing worldwide on December 5. The delay in the release of the film that was originally slated to release in 2010, was reportedly due to the lack of response from the distributors. Ever since, however, Bhopal… has travelled to many international festivals in the past three years. In fact, to suit the sensibilities of the Western audience, few scenes have also been edited.
Apparently, these are not the only cases of delayed releases. Gripped with various unavoidable issues — from delay in shooting and editing to facing issues in getting a theatrical release because of Censor Board’s disapproval or the lack of distributors to numerous other reasons — many film projects have been put on the back-burner. But now, many films that were stuck are finally ready to see the light of the day.
Taking a cue from past films like Milenge Milenge, Hum Tumhaare Hain Sanam, Ishk In Paris, Dulha Mil Gaya among others, it is quite evident that most of the delayed releases have failed to create a magic at the box-office. While it is yet to be seen how the upcoming releases fare, industry experts believe that there’s a method in releasing films that have been stuck for a considerable period.
Trade analyst Akshaye Rathi talks about films like Hum Saath Saath Hain, Wanted, The Lunchbox etc that did well despite the delay. He recalls how the shooting of HSSH went kaput mid-way because of the black buck case accusation on Salman Khan, while Wanted was also made a year and a half earlier to its release in 2009. To collect proper funds from international collaborations, The Lunchbox was in the cans for a very long time. “The only thing that matters is how entertaining a story is and secondly one has to ensure that the look and the feel of a film is not dated,” says Rathi who feels that a film like Milenge Milenge failed because by the time it released Shahid Kapoor who played the lead, had started looking more mature.
Talking about Ungli, a Dharma Production film directed by Rensil D’Silva, starring Emraan Hashmi and Kangana Ranaut that has been delayed by more than a year because of several factors like not finding an apt release date amid many big films, Rathi says that it won’t be affected much, as the makers have managed to retain the continuity and look of the actors. The film will release on November 21, will have an additional song for promotional purposes is being shot now.
Whereas for Ugly, a film directed by Anurag Kashyap, the release of which has again been delayed by more than a year, Vivek Rangachari from DAR Motion Pictures and one of the producers of Ugly, cites various reasons for the delay. However, he assures that within the next three months the film will release in the theatres.
Quite contrary to many other films when an outside body hinders the release, in the case of Ugly, it was film-maker Anurag Kashyap’s strong stance on the issue of removing the non-smoking ticker. The Censor Board had directed the makers to run it during the smoking scenes and a court case related to the issue delayed the film’s release. “Once that was sorted, Anurag was caught up with projects like Bombay Talkies and now Bombay Velvet and thus Ugly has been taking time to release. Another reason was that we wanted to take the film to festivals around the world,” says Rangachari about the film that will be Kashyap’s only directorial feature film after Gangs Of Wasseypur I and II. He strongly believes that this will be enough to bring Kashyap loyalists to the theatres whenever it releases.
“We are sure of Ugly because its story is very relevant in today’s time. It is a whodunnit sort of film that is edgy and has good music,” says Rangachari as he speaks about films like Kahaani (Sujoy Ghosh) and Paan Singh Tomar (Tigmanshu Dhulia) that were delayed, but still performed extremely well not just at the box-office but were also critically acclaimed.
For Kahaani, Ghosh in one of his earlier interviews had revealed that he wanted the impact that Vidya Balan, the lead actress of the film had created with her previous release The Dirty Picture (2011), to fade away as her character in Kahaani was very different from TDP.
In the case of Paan Singh Tomar, however, the issue was more grave. The film was made and ready for almost two years before it finally saw the light of the day in early 2012. Irrfan, who played the titular role, in one of the earlier interviews to Screen said that the team wanted to release the film in 2011 but, “the entire year was packed with about four to five films hitting the screens practically every week. Also we were getting only fewer screens to showcase the film. It became very difficult for us to find a suitable date for release.”
Film-maker Ketan Mehta completely agrees with the scenario that Irrfan speaks about as he remarks that in spite of the big boom in the multiplexes, there is a kind of bottleneck that exists in the film exhibition space. “It has to be resolved for the long-term benefit. In India, perhaps, we have the lowest per capita screen capacity compared to any other film-producing nations,” says Mehta, whose Rang Rasiya was stuck in Censor issues for the longest time for its controversial and sensuous subject. “We sent it to the revising committee under Sharmila Tagore and was finally appreciated,” says Mehta who because of the theme of the film still faced resistance from the distributors who thought it to be a very risky proposition and took a long time in accepting it.
The film is now releasing in 700 screens across the country. “It is the longest pregnancy that we had. We have carried our baby for a long time with the belief that once it comes out, it will be the best,” he says and that for both the lead actors, it is one of the best performance that is what is motivating them to promote it extensively. “It’s the story that will bring in the audience now,” he says.
Even Rangachari, on a generic note remarks that it is the story of the film that drives it to success as the masses at large are not aware of the delays that happen within the industry. “The junta gets to know about a film only when activities and promotions around the film begins.”
Sohum Shah, the producer of Ship Of Theseus, which was in the edit room for a very long time, says that if the delay is because of giving the film a better touch, it should always be preferred. “While date issues can’t be in the film-maker’s hands, the final product is,” says Shah and adds, “Ship… didn’t face issues during the release phase, but it took time during editing and I am glad it did because emphasis on the finer details helps a film in the long run,” he remarks as he talks about Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet, which too has been pushed to 2015 from this year as the director wanted to concentrate on post-production. “It is always good to come out with a product that is satisfactory even if it is delayed,” he concludes.
HITS AND MISSES
While a delayed release worked in few film’s favour, some suffered badly because of that
The film was made almost a year-and-a-half before its release in 2009 when it smashed many records at the box-office.
The film that released in 1960 was originally planned in 1944. It was shelved due to political tensions but was finally made and released, breaking many records
The film was delayed because the VFX took time. While it did decent business, it could have done better.
Paan Singh Tomar
The film waited for a suitable release date for almost two years after its completion and was finally released in 2012.
Scheduled for a December 2005 release, the film released in 2010 and looked very outdated, thus failing at the box-office.
Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam
Because of production hassles amid various other things, the film was delayed and lost its charm by the time it released.
Dulha Mil Gaya
After being held up for three years because of Shah Rukh Khan’s date issues, the film released in 2010 to be panned by critics.
Ishkq in Paris
A Preity Zinta production, it was delayed because the director fell ill. However when it released in 2013, it was panned by the critics and audience.