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Bollywood maintains hold at box office despite covid spike, restrictions

Crime drama Mumbai Saga made Rs2.75 crore on its opening day, despite restrictions in several states, including Maharashtra.Premium
Crime drama Mumbai Saga made Rs2.75 crore on its opening day, despite restrictions in several states, including Maharashtra.

  • The crime drama Mumbai Saga beat the first collections of Roohi, which had made just over Rs2.5 crore, thanks especially to the Mahashivratri holiday on its opening day and pent-up demand among youth for the first mainstream offering from Bollywood in months

After an impressive start with horror comedy Roohi last week, Bollywood still managed some hold at the box office with crime drama Mumbai Saga making Rs2.75 crore on its opening day, despite restrictions in several states, including Maharashtra.

The film, in fact, beat the first collections of Roohi that had made a little over Rs2.5 crore, thanks especially to the Mahashivratri holiday on its opening day last week and the pent-up demand among youth for the first mainstream offering from Bollywood in months.

Trade website Box Office India said night curfews and restrictions in states such as Maharashtra and Punjab hit the business of Mumbai Saga badly but it still managed good occupancy and even some houseful shows (at 50% capacity) towards the evening and at night, especially in single screens. The gangster film directed by Sanjay Gupta and featuring John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi has particular draw for Maharashtra, say trade experts, and the state that is currently leading the covid wave with lockdowns in districts of Nagpur and Thane, notched up better numbers than it had for Roohi, making for the best opening yet in the post-covid period. The film also saw good numbers from Andhra Pradesh, the Nizam region and Bihar, though it is unclear how many cinemas are currently operational in these states.

“The pandemic and its restrictions have hit the box office performances of Friday releases. The rise in cases is a cause of concern, audiences have shied away, it’s a difficult situation over the weekend," film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar had tweeted earlier on box office prospects across the country.

The core audience of Mumbai Saga is in Maharashtra and mass regions, and unfortunately cases reported here are the highest, Johar added.

However, good news for the film comes from the fact that word-of-mouth is positive among those who have braved a visit to theatres and considering the paucity of releases right now, there is a chance for it to play longer in cinemas than under ordinary circumstances, with the hope that covid cases gradually dip. In fact, earlier on Friday, independent film distributor and exhibitor Akshaye Rathi had said Mumbai Saga had recorded best footfall for a Hindi film since reopening of his cinemas in small-towns such as Raipur and Bhilai.

“The covid situation in Maharashtra continues to be a near-term risk for exhibitors," Karan Taurani, research analyst at Elara Capital Ltd said, adding that if the situation were to worsen, even Sooryavanshi could shift its April date.

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