Does cricket mania pose a threat to film releases?
The past month has been tough for new releases from Bollywood that didn’t have the biggest marquee names. Could cricket be the reason? The 10th edition of Indian Premier League kicked off on April 5, and since then, films such as Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laaddoo Deewana, Begum Jaan, Noor and Maatr have failed to take off. In March, though, films such as Naam Shabana, Phillauri and Badrinath Ki Dulhania had hit the bull’s eye at the box office.
If so, how is the industry going to fare this month and next month? The IPL final match is on May 21, and from June 1, the ICC Champions Trophy tournament begins.
Trade analyst Komal Nahta doesn’t think that cricket per se has affected these films. “[The flops have] nothing to do with IPL. The only reason was that the content was bad,” says Nahta. He might have a point, as Baahubali 2, released on April 28, is getting big crowds.
But Bollywood (and Hollywood film) distributors do seem to take note of when cricket would pull people away from theatres. Films such as Atithi in London, Behen Hogi Teri, Bankchor, Raabta and the English film War for the Planet of the Apes will be out only after the tournament ends on June 18. Immediately after the Champions Cup, Salman Khan’s big Eid release, Tubelight, will hit cinemas.
“It could be a coincidence,” says exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi. Director Sabbir Khan, who has had a number of releases during big cricket tournaments, believes that sport and Bollywood can co-exist. Nahta says, “Cricket is no longer the huge threat it used to be [for new releases] about five years ago.”
From top: An IPL match; stills from Bankchor and Atithi in London