Sangati Jogwar

Bollywood has been badly hit by the lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many movies that were running in the theatres like “Angrezi Medium” had to face a big loss after all the multiplexes and theatres in the country were closed down. Importantly, there have been many other movies that were on the threshold of release and expected to make a big profit. Now the release of all such movies has been postponed indefinitely. According to reports, some such movies including Coolie No.1, Gulabo Sitabo, Gunjan Saxena, Indoo Ki Jawaani may see an OTT release very soon.

According to Shibashish Sarkar, Group CEO, Content, Digital & Gaming, Reliance Entertainment. “I won’t be surprised if some mid and small-budget films go straight for digital release. Not every producer has the capacity to hold on to a film for very long. Also, if some important films move to OTT directly, it might lead to a new consumption pattern. ”

Movies Delayed Due To Lockdown

With the lockdown in the country being extended up to May 17 the release of many more movies will have to be rescheduled. Some of the movies that were scheduled to release during the lockdown period are:

• Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar - March 20

• Sooryavanshi - March 24

• Haathi Mere Saathi - April 2

• 83 - April 10

• Gulabo Sitabo - April 17

• Coolie No 1 - May 1

• Dil Bechara - May 8

• Shakuntala Devi - May 8

• The Girl on the Train - May 8

• Jhund - May 8

• Laxmmi Bomb - May 22

• Radhe - May 22

The last two movies are big ones. While Laxmmi Bomb will star Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani, Radhe will star Disha Patani and Salman Khan. Both these movies were to clash at the box-office and it triggered a lot of speculations initially as to who will emerge the winner. Even though these movies are scheduled to release on May 22 and the lockdown will lift on May 17, it is doubtful whether the government will immediately allow the opening of the theatres. But considering the amount of investment made on these movies, these are less likely to get a release on the OTT platform.

OTT In Need Of Content, Movie Producers Trapped

While the movie producers are earnestly waiting to get a release for their movies, OTT platforms are also searching for new content. Lockdown has increased viewership of television and web channels and the OTT platforms have also been successful at keeping the viewers engaged. But now there is a stiff competition among the leading channels like ALTBalaji, Zee5, Voot, SonyLiv, Amazon Prime, Viu and more. Since shooting for new content will take time, these channels are now trying to woo movie producers with lucrative offers for releasing their movies.

The producers also are trapped since they are not sure how theatrical release of their content will get response post lockdown as there is a strong chance that all the leading production houses will be in a hurry to release their movies after the multiplexes and theatres open.

According to a trade analyst, “The OTT platforms have enough content as of now but sooner or later, they too won’t have anything new to offer as even their productions are paused. Also, their viewership will increase if they get an upcoming film, which was originally meant for cinemas. Hence, they are approaching makers of films like Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, Khaali Peeli, Coolie No 1, Ginny Weds Sunny, Saina, Indoo Ki Jawaani, Shershaah, etc.”