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New Delhi: Several months of wait for theatre owners in India seems to be ending now with Bollywood producers gradually lining up films.

Yash Raj Films has announced its line-up for the year starting with Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra-starrer Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar on 19 March, 2021, going on to the sequel to their popular comedy Bunty Aur Babli, this time featuring Rani Mukerji, Saif Ali Khan, Siddhant Chaturvedi and debutant Sharvari on 23 April, Ranbir Kapoor’s period drama Shamshera on 25 June, Ranveer Singh’s comedy-drama Jayeshbhai Jordaar on 27 August and its Akshay Kumar-led war saga Prithviraj on 5 November for Diwali.

Incidentally, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar was initially slated for release exactly a year ago on 20 March when the covid-19 pandemic forced theatres and the rest of the nation into shutdown.

Industry experts hailed the announcement as much-needed good news for the ailing exhibition sector, with trade analyst Taran Adarsh saying on Twitter that ‘the wait is over.’

“Team Yash Raj reinstating their commitment to theatrical releases is a big sigh of relief for the exhibition industry. Pretty sure that the cinema fraternity will be more than welcoming them. The magic of big-screen entertainment will be back with these and other mega films," film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar tweeting.

To be sure, the relaxation in seating limits to 100% across the country earlier this month had perked up theatre owners and producers who are more confident now of locking dates for new releases. If all goes well and new films hit theatres, trade experts say the box office could see a 20% jump from ordinary times given the pent-up demand.

Typically, close to 1700 crore rides on summer releases in India. With audiences cooped up at home for months eagerly waiting to see big stars on the big screen, the exhibition business could be on the path to recovery.

According to a recent KPMG report, the film segment will contract by 67% over FY21, registering revenues of Rs. 6,100 crore versus Rs. 18,300 crore the previous year. More than 1,000 theatres, especially single screens across India, have downed shutters over the last year as a combination of big and medium-budget films bypassed theatrical release to go directly to video streaming platforms. YRF has been one of the few production houses to hold on to their finished projects for theatrical release.

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