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Zee Studios is releasing its comedy-drama Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari
Zee Studios is releasing its comedy-drama Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari

Muted Diwali for cinemas

Both Bollywood and Tamil cinema have had a fairly impressive record with Diwali so far, with the festival season accounting for best of business. But this year is different

India’s film industry, known for releasing blockbusters during Diwali, will see theatres make do with small, new films or re-runs of old hits in the absence of fresh content and consumer reticence to visit cinema halls due to covid.

Zee Studios is releasing its comedy-drama Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, Yash Raj Films has made old titles, including Veer Zaara, Sultan, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Ek Tha Tiger, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Mardaani available, while Bengali film Dracula Sir, which arrived in theatres in West Bengal for Durga Puja, will be dubbed and released in Hindi across the country.

The Tamil film industry too will issue two new offerings—director Santhosh’s adult horror-comedy Irandam Kuthu and Santhanam’s Biskoth.

The new announcements come close on the heels of digital service providers like UFO Moviez and Qube Cinemas having taken concrete steps to resolve the issue of Virtual Print Fee (VPF) and waived charges for all new films releasing this month.

VPF is a charge paid by producers to firms like UFO and Qube and ranges between 12,000 and 15,000 per screen per show to showcase their films using digital projectors and technology that the latter rent to cinemas.

Both Bollywood and Tamil cinema have had a fairly impressive record during Diwali, with the festival standing out as one of the most lucrative periods of the year as seen from previous years’ hits such as Housefull 4 ( 205.60 crore), Golmaal Again ( 205.50 crore), Ae Dil Hai Mushkil ( 106.48 crore), Prem Ratan Dhan Payo ( 194.30 crore), Happy New Year ( 178.41 crore), Bigil ( 208 crore) and Sarkar ( 250 crore).

Theatres are prepping for the period beyond Diwali that is also yet to see filmmakers announce any big films but has a lineup comprising Hollywood flick Greenland (4 December), Gujarati movie Beti (27 November) and Bengali film Kakababur Protyabortan (Christmas). Bollywood has emptied out its 2020 release calendar with big-ticket movies like Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi and sports drama ’83 set to hit screens only next year.

“It’s about how you look at it; we were closed all these months, so at least it’s a better time now, but it is definitely a challenge to run the show," P.V. Sunil, managing director at Carnival Cinemas, said in a recent interview, referring to the content crunch and mounting losses.

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