2020 witnessed way too many unprecedented turn of events — theatres remained shutdown for eight months, the entertainment industry came to a standstill, and work went for a toss completely. It was only in October that the theatres reopened, only to a tepid response from the public.
2021, however, is pegged to be the year when everyone is expecting the industry’s fortunes to change. Biggies such as Sooryavanshi, Laal Singh Chadha, ’83, Maidaan and Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai all shifted their release to this year, in the hopes that the audience will be more confident stepping out.
Actors, too, are eagerly looking forward to the charm of theatres coming back again. Ajay Devgn will be making an appearance in three films this year — Maidaan, Sooryavanshi and RRR. Agreeing that while OTT platforms emerged as a big help in these testing times, he believes what will lure audiences back now is only the experience a film offers.
“That’s one of the reasons for making Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (2020) on the scale that we did. By showing to an audience in 3D, it became mandatory for people to visit cinema halls. If you had to enjoy the film with its sound and visuals to its full impact, you had to come to a theatre. I’m sure makers like Aditya Chopra, Rohit Shetty and several others know this. Therefore, they’ll make films that should be seen in theatres only,” says the 51-year-old.
After a single release, Khaali Peeli last year, Ananya Panday has two films in 2021 — Shakun Batra’s untitled next, and multi-lingual film Fighter. Quite vocal in her preference for a theatrical release, she says, “I’m hoping both films have that. I’d love to watch a film again on the big screen, I miss that theatre experience, and I don’t think anything can ever replace that.”
Racing ahead of all is Taapsee Pannu, with as many as five films, including Rashmi Rocket and Haseen Dillruba coming out in 2021 and she shares she said a yes to all of them keeping in mind a theatrical experience.
“All these films have a strong story to be told but they’ve been designed keeping theatre experience in mind. They’re all meant for community viewing and to be seen in a cinema hall, without any distraction because it’ll take you to a world of its own” tells us the 33-year-old.
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Tahir Raj Bhasin will be seen in Loop Lapeta with Pannu, and also the multi-starrer ‘83. He, too, asserts that both these films have been made for the big screen experience. “But given what 2021 is looking like, one has to take into account people’s safety first. I do believe in this time for hybrid, both theatres and OTT can coexist. But as an actor, I believe both should get a theatrical,” he adds.
Abhishek Bachchan will be seen next in Bob Biswas, a spin off of the character by the same name in Kahaani (2012). While, his upcoming The Big Bull is releasing on an OTT platform, he’s a big supporter of the cinemas. “We make films for theatres. I can’t wait to get back into a cinema hall with a popcorn and cold drink. Obviously that’s the end goal. In the meantime, web is the only platform we’ve to go with , digital is here to stay and not going anywhere,” he points.
Trade expert Atul Mohan says at this point, actors will of course prefer a theatrical release. “If they have waited for so long, I don’t think there’ any harm in waiting for some more time. A theatrical release is very important in an actor’s career, and defines where their stardom goes, and where they stand with the masses with each release. Fan following, market value, all are defined by box office, that’ the barometer,” he reasons.
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