KILLER VIRUS HITS HINDI FILM INDUSTRY WITH HUGE LOSSES
by ASJAD NAZIR
THE crushing coronavirus has claimed its first major Bollywood casualties and the overall damage looks like will be running into hundreds of millions of pounds globally.
The first three Indian film-related giants to fall were all supposed to take place this week. Shreya Ghoshal’s highly anticipated UK tour has been pushed back to August bank holiday and megabudget action entertainer Sooryavanshi, which will now not be released on March 24, has been postponed indefinitely. The upcoming UK Asian Film Festival, due to start on March 25, was planning to host VIP guests from Bollywood, including Hema Malini, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ekta Kapoor and Boney Kapoor, but they can’t attend the event due to travel restrictions.
Recently released film Angrezi Medium has suffered badly due to cinemas shutting down across India and audiences staying away from screenings, which will result in huge losses for producers (although they are planning to re-release it at a later date, despite largely poor reviews).
Movies including Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, Jersey and Brahmastra had already paused production, but then Indian film authorities halted all shooting schedules of film and TV shows in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Ranveer Singh starrer Jayeshbhai Jordaar, Farhan Akhtar’s Toofaan and Vicky Kausal film Sardar Udham Singh have all moved their respective release dates. Salman Khan has cancelled a tour of USA and Canada in early April. Similar events with other stars and huge Bollywood concerts are also being cancelled globally.
There will be more announcements of postponements of films and concerts in the coming weeks.
Massive money spent on marketing for these upcoming films and events have also gone to waste, as dates are being shifted around.
Amitabh Bachchan cancelled his decades old tradition of meeting fans on a Sunday outside his Mumbai residence due to the virus scare and asked well-wishers to stay away.
Interestingly, the A-list stars will be the least affected because they will get paid regardless in most cases, including non-refundable deposits for live events. Their only setback will be a halt on new projects, which will mean a delay on forthcoming payments.
Most film producers will raise money from private sources or studios, so they won’t feel the hurt as much for films flopping due to the lack of audience as they would already have been paid for making the films. Film financiers, venue owners, movie crews and grassroots employees, who work at cinema halls and concert arenas, will feel the biggest financial loss.
Producers have halted work on various projects because the bottleneck created by postponed projects means there will be little cinema space available. Share prices of stock market listed firms with interest in Indian cinema will also suffer losses, and last but not least, audiences will lose out because there won’t be any new films in the foreseeable future.
Salman under pressure
LAST week, I had written that Salman Khan (right) was under immense pressure this Eid after delivering three disastrous films in a row on the lucrative holiday release date, and especially since he was facing a box office battle with another star for the first time.
It seems as if the coronavirus will come to his rescue and help him save face. He will likely postpone the Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai release and blame the global pandemic. If he does release the film and it’s the disaster most predict, the virus keeping audiences away will be used as an excuse.