Bollywood takes IPL head on

MUMBAI: Bollywood is refusing to take evasive action from the mighty attack of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Having learnt the hard way with films falling right, left and centre in the last four seasons of the IPL, Bollywood has decided to take the most popular and extensive annual cricketing event head on by releasing 24 films.

Of the 24, ten are big-ticket films from banners like Viacom 18, Reliance Motion Pictures, Yash Raj Films, UTV Spot Boy, Nadiadwala Grandsons and Ram Gopal Varma’s RGV Films.

The first film released on 5 April is Sajid Nadiadwala’s Housefull 2. This is to be followed by Kumar Mangat and Viacom 18’s Bittoo Boss (13 April), Life Ki Toh Lag Gayi and John Abraham’s Vicky Donor (20 April), Venus Records and Tapes’ Priyadarshan-directed Tezz (27 April), Mukesh Bhatt’s Jannat 2 (4 May), BVG Films, DAR Motion Pictures and Reliance Entertainment’s Karisma Kapur-starrer Dangerous Ishq (11 May) and Ram Gopal Varma’s Department, YRF’s Ishaqzaade and UTV Spotboy and Anurag Kashyap’s Love Suv Te Chicken Khurana (all on 18 May).

Opines UTV Motion Pictures CEO Siddharth Roy Kapoor, “The IPL has now become a regular part of the annual calendar and producers and distributors have realised that movie releases and cricket can co-exist since audiences watching cricket don’t stop going to cinema. Hence, we are seeing many big-ticket releases during the IPL. The general opinion is that if a film is good, it will run despite the IPL happening concurrently.”

Last year the only big-ticket films to release during the IPL were Dum Maro Dum and Thank You. Incidentally, both proved duds at the box office while a string of smaller productions like Shor In The City, Chalo Dilli, I Am, Love Ka The End, Ragini MMS, Stanley Ka Dabba and Pyar Ka Punchnama managed to find a release window during the IPL.

Industry officials expect the first quarter of this fiscal to be better in terms of revenue than the previous year due to a stronger lineup of films.

Explains producer Mukesh Bhatt, “The IPL has lost its shine. Now we are confident to take it head on. After lying low for four years in
a row, Bollywood has decided to release many ‘A’ ticket films. Both cricket and films are a religion in India. People who are aficionados of cricket will see the IPL while those who love films will definitely go to see a film. All said and done, our revenue during the IPL tournament is poised for a big jump.”

Will not the IPL harm his upcoming film Jannat 2? “When IPL came for the first time, we were not afraid to release our film Jannat, then why should we be afraid this time? We are sure that our film will captivate the audience. We will storm the theatres, whatever be the match. Jannat 2 will prove to be a match-winning venture,” he says.

Exhibitors are also unanimous with the view that the IPL can‘t scare away big movies from releasing. Says Cinemax India CEO Sunil Punjabi, “April to June has traditionally been the best movie months till IPL hit us. This is the period that is large on entertainment time since kids and teens have holidays. Last year we saw a shift in cinema consumption trends. This year too, it is going to be the same. This shift in consumption is showing signs of the movie market maturing to take on any challenge."

So will IPL matches be screened in multiplexes? "The screening rights of IPL are being held back by the BCCI. Hence, like last year, there won‘t be screenings in multiplexes unless the rights are released," avers Punjabi.

It is not just Bollywood but also foreign films like James Cameron‘s Titanic (3D), Men in Black-3 and The Avengers that are opening up their release pipeline during the IPL.

"Bollywood has realised that it can‘t stay shut for 45 days in a year without the release of big movies. They will have to bat along with the IPL and prove that they can score even in a tough wicket. That is why we are seeing more number of big releases this year," says a media analyst.

Film producers, however, are weary of releasing their big-ticket movies during crunch matches. Which is why Yash Raj Films has decided to release Ishaqzaade, a story about love brewing in a small town burning with hatred, on 11 May and not a week later as was originally planned.

"With Ferrari ki Sawaari moving to a later date and the IPL crunch matches kicking in from 18 May, this shift will give Ishaqzaade a better window for release," YRF says. Vidhu Vinod Chopra‘s Ferrari Ki Sawaari was to release on 11 May but has been delayed.

"These kind of shuffles and strategies will take place, but the bigger truth is that Bollywood has woken up to the challenge," says the head of a film production company who did not want his name to be revealed.

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