The Asian Age

Déjà vu for Bollywood

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is seeing similar effects in Bollywood as the swine flu outbreak of 2009


While Akshay Kumar and Manushi Chhillar starrer film Prithviraj was being shot in Rajasthan till Wednesday, the Manoj Bajpayee, Diljit Dosanjh and Fatima Sana Shaikh starrer Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari wrapped their shooting schedule on Monday. Amidst no promotiona­l interviews, parties, and paparazzi, Varun Dhawan was still spotted on Wednesday completing the dubbing for his home production Coolie No 1. The actor was obviously taking all precaution­s possible. It seems that the COVID-19 pandemic has kept everyone at home. Eleven years ago, 2009, Bollywood went through a similar lull when swine flu spread across the nation. While the fear of the swine flu was not that big, Bollywood films did not reach the theatres due to a dispute between producers and distributo­rs on one side with the multiplex owners at the other end, over the sharing of profits between them. Producers and distributo­rs clearly refused to release the films, demanding a higher share of profits from the exhibitors after refusing to be cowed down by their demands. Incidental­ly, the strike took place during the summer season, which meant that it hit the audiences real hard as well. Many films — Akshay Kumar’s Chandni Chowk To China, Tasveer and Blue, Salman Khan’s London Dreams and Main Aur Mrs Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan’s Alladin, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan’s Kurbaan and Priyanka Chopra’s What’s Your Raashee — were wiped out when theatres re-opened. in

Eleven years ago, in 2009, Bollywood went through a similar lull when swine flu spread across the nation

“Films were pulled out of the theatres then because audiences did not come to the film theatres for fear of swine flu spreading.

They also did not want to eat anything out in that period, though social media was restricted to only Facebook in those days. Akshay Kumar’s Tasveer, in fact, was the last film to be screened before the strike began,” recollects Atul Mohan, Editor, Complete Cinema.

Many films were pulled out of predecided release dates and Salman Khan’s Wanted, Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif starrer Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani, John Abraham and Katrina Kaif starrer New York and Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone’s film Love Aaj Kal were the only hits of 2009. However, Aamir Khan’s Idiots released on Christmas, continued to do well the following year. Above-average grossers were Amitabh Bachchan’s Paa, All the Best, Wake Up Sid, Dev D and Kambakkht Ishq.

As of now all promotiona­l events have been postponed. Films are not in the theatres, which themselves are shut, while some of the theatre owners are smartly carrying on renovation work. Only a few film shoots are taking place and that too with a lot of precaution as the producers’ associatio­n Indian Motion Pictures Producers Associatio­n (IMPPA) asked for shootings to be stopped starting Thursday. “The Mumbai police have also been raiding all shooting locations and studios, and have stopped shoots at Film City and TV channel offices which house studios apart from other studios. We were merely doing an anchor shoot in the studio for our entertainm­ent programme when the cops came and asked us to shut shop,” a

TV channel executive reveals.

— Sanskriti Media

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