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Bollywood pins recovery hopes on 2021’s first big-ticket release Roohi

The Rajkummar Rao and Jahnvi Kapoor-starrer has been made by the maker of Stree, and has the same haunted, small-town world as its setting. (Source: Twitter @SumitkadeI)Premium
The Rajkummar Rao and Jahnvi Kapoor-starrer has been made by the maker of Stree, and has the same haunted, small-town world as its setting. (Source: Twitter @SumitkadeI)

The film is primarily targeted at up-market, urban audience and will find takers in metros such as Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru with key territory Mumbai operating cinemas at 50% capacity given the renewed surge in infections

Horror comedy Roohi hitting the big screen this Thursday will set the pace for Bollywood’s recovery in theatres and determine its future. As the first Hindi language film featuring popular actors in cinemas after the outbreak of coronavirus, the film is being looked upon as the litmus test for the ailing exhibition industry starved of Bollywood movies for a long time.

The Rajkummar Rao and Janhvi Kapoor-starrer has been made by the makers of Stree and is set in the same haunted, small-town world as the earlier horror comedy also featuring Rao, that had made close to 130 crore in box office collections when released in 2018.

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“Roohi marks the start of new releases from popular production houses and is the first decent-sized Bollywood film to release this year," said Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas, at online ticketing site, BookMyShow. “Commercial entertainers such as Roohi have a multi-state appeal. The film holds the potential to work well as horror-comedy is a universal genre and works across the length and breadth of the country," Saksena said.

Hollywood films such as Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 and Tamil movie offering Master have initiated some sort of recovery for the cinema business, but the exhibition industry still depends on Bollywood to get back on to its feet. The theatre business is expected to have contracted by 67% in FY21 with more than 1,000 cinemas having downed shutters for good. Films such as Roohi, which is eyeing a screen count of 1,500, will thus have to start small. The slate of Bollywood releases locked in for release post Roohi will have many lessons to draw from its business. All trade and box office calculations will only begin after Roohi and, depending on its performance, producers will get a sense of where the industry is headed and how feasible it is to release Hindi films in cinemas, said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema. However, early estimates suggest that the film can notch up opening day collections of 5-6 crore, beating both Tenet and Wonder Woman.

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