Since November 2020, we, through Bollywood Talk, have been stressing that the mid and big films should release despite the pandemic. The first major release post lockdown, ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’ (2020), opened at around Rs. 55 lakhs. It became clear that if a film with a weak star cast and limited hype can put up such a figure, then a bigger film can do better. Later, in January 2021, Vijay’s much awaited film ‘Master’ (2021) released and it emerged as a huge hit, collecting more than Rs. 100 crore. It made it clear once and for all that audiences are ready to come to cinemas and that films can collect well, despite 50% occupancy. Bollywood, however, didn’t agree. It’s only when the central government allowed 100% occupancy that the industry finally woke up and drew a line up.
Sadly, the 50% occupancy rule still remains, in major centres like Mumbai and Pune. Still, producers Dinesh Vijan and Jio Studios went ahead with the release of ‘Roohi’ (2021), starring Rajkummar Rao, Jahnvi Kapoor and Varun Sharma. The hype was limited and we expected the film to open in the Rs. 1.50-2.50 crore range. Even the trade felt the same. Surprisingly, the film opened at Rs. 2.75 crore! It was released on Mahashivratri holiday and that also helped. The collections improved on Saturday and Sunday and ultimately it collected Rs. 11.35 crore in 4 days. The weekday drop is normal and the first week collections are expected to be around Rs. 15.50 crore.
This is a great result for a film like ‘Roohi’. The response is mixed and yet, audiences have thronged theatres to watch it. Many of these viewers have gone to cinemas for the first time in a year. This reiterates that there’s tremendous pent up demand among audiences.
Two more films released on Friday and trade is hopeful that one of them will manage to score. The first one is ‘Mumbai Saga’. It is directed by Sanjay Gupta and stars John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi in leading roles. It is based on the Mumbai underworld and is in the same space as Sanjay Gupta’s ‘Shootout At Lokhandwala’ (2007) and ‘Shootout At Wadala’ (2013). The film looks like a massy fare and the casting of John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi has helped. They have a following in single screens and B and C centres. On the flipside, the film has limited buzz. Songs haven’t worked much. But if a film like ‘Roohi’ can open at Rs. 2.75 crore, ‘Mumbai Saga’ can do better and have an opening of Rs. 3-3.25 crore. It can sustain well if mass audiences give it thumbs up.
Directed by Dibakar Banerjee, ‘Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar’ is finally also released. It is a delayed film that was shot in 2017 and 2018 but the lockdown played spoilsport at the eleventh hour. The producers Yash Raj Films (YRF) had unveiled a trailer of the film last year which was very poor and dry. 10 days back, YRF came up with a new trailer and this one is much better. Yet, one thing remains – it looks like a niche fare. It has got limited shows since ‘Roohi’ and ‘Mumbai Saga’ have taken over majority of shows. The opening will thus be less than Rs. 50 lakhs.