Our voice on the streets of Mumbai gives us the monthly lowdown as 2022 opens with great uncertainty and a certain nip in the air…
By Rodrigues C
GUYS, my fellow Bollywood watchers all is not well. And yes, it is covid related, though not personal.
Bollywood is in a state of flux, some would say, turmoil, as regional movies begin to eat into market share and the situation may only worsen…
This month and most recently there has been a chill in Mumbai (quite literally as temperatures tumbled to just 13.4C earlier this week) – that and covid sent us inside and away from crowds. There are no heaters here. It’s not funny. You guys are used to it, like those in Delhi, but here the average even in winter and at night is about 21C. You’d jump on a plane for that, wouldn’t you?
Omicron didn’t make much of an impact in the city, except for the cinemas and the nightlife; bars and restaurants were ordered to shut down at 10pm.
The biggest casualty of this new variant were films and the industry in general. The releases of several money spinners such as ‘Jersey’ (December 31), ‘RRR’ (January 7), ‘Radhe Shyam’ (January 14), ‘Prithviraj’ (January 21) and ‘Attack’ (January 28) were put on the back-burner. Losses in the first quarter of 2022 are estimated to be to the tune of £150 million mainly owing to movie releases getting shelved.
Many filmmakers are contemplating releasing their films directly on OTT (online/digitally) due to the current uncertainty.
Stars Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar’s ‘Badhaai Do’ was initially scheduled for a February release but is now believed to be headed to the small screen.
Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn starrer ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’, which will be premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival (February 10-20), has just today moved its release date to February 25. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the film marks 25 years of the veteran auteur filmmaker in Bollywood.
Several film shoots all over India were also affected by the covid restrictions. The cast of ‘Tiger 3’, featuring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, was scheduled to shoot in Delhi in mid-January but had to reschedule their plans.
Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, who feature in the Karan Johar directorial ‘Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani’, had to cancel their January 10 shoot for a song in Mumbai.
The shoot of action film ‘Liger’, staring Ananya Panday and Mike Tyson, was also shelved. The schedule of ‘Kuttey’, with Arjun Kapoor in the lead, was also affected after he tested positive recently. The shoot of ‘Merry Christmas’, which stars Katrina Kaif was also rescheduled.
Away from the gloom, something new is happening in Bollywood, which we wonder could be a wake-up call for the industry.
There was a time, when Bollywood was considered to be the bastion of the Indian film industry. But times seem to be changing and there is a silent coup in the making. As Bollywood continues with its dismal performance, the south Indian film industry is creating waves in traditional Bollywood turfs.
It all started seven years back with the release of ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ and then ‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’, which collected £100m in 10 days. Then came along, ‘KGF Chapter 1’ and it made £25m. And, now we have ‘Pushpa: The Rise’, another original Telugu film starring Allu Arjun, another regional icon, whom has caught the attention of the Bollywood film market. Released on December 17, 2021, the film has so far grossed over £35m. Its dubbed Hindi version is close to reaching the £10m mark. And, despite its OTT launch, it’s still making money. In fact, the movie is considered to be the reason the box office collections of ‘83’, about the victorious Indian World Cup cricket winning team, released on December 24, fell. It’s estimated that nearly 10 million people watched ‘Pushpa: The Rise’ in India’s Hindi speaking states alone.
So, it’s not surprising that the biggest and most awaited movie in 2022 is ‘RRR’, which has been helmed by Baahubali director SS Rajamouli.
Made on a budget of £40m, which is massive even by Bollywood standards, the Telugu language film stars NT Rama Rao Jr and Ram Charan. It’s also being dubbed into several Indian languages.
Of its Bollywood stars, Devgn has been paid £3.5m for his 15-minute appearance in the period drama, and Alia Bhatt £900,000 for her about 20-minute role, while NTR Rama Rao Jnr and Ram Charan, the two Telugu language stars, are on about £4.5m for their more substantial roles – but are not considered as national stars in the same way – yet.
There are two films the whole of India is awaiting…
The first, ‘Radhe Shyam’, stars Prabhas – who made his name with ‘Baahubali’ – and it also features Pooja Hegde. A romantic epic, it has been shot in Telugu and Hindi. It has been made on a budget of £35m.
The second, is the Kannada flick ‘KGF: Chapter 2’, which stars local star Yash and Bollywood legend, Sanjay Dutt. KGF stands for the Kolar Gold Fields.
For Bollywood, 2022 could be a make or break year considering South movies are digging into its market share, even in Hindi heartlands. These bigs films are being dubbed in Hindi, alongside the original language which is helping make tracks with audiences in the North.
We’ll have a clear picture only after a few months. For now, we just wait and watch. Stay warm and watch the drama unfold – it may not always be on a big or even a small screen near you!