No more forbidden territory

There was a time when producers simply shied away from releasing their films during the supposedly inauspicious shraddh period of mourning. Many of them still do. Yet, the margin to indulge in superstitious practices has narrowed drastically, thanks to the number of films waiting to be released each week and the ensuing competition amongst to get into theatres.

Bhatt, Naturally: Vikram Bhatt did not want to start shooting during Shraddh
"We can't afford to delay a release and cause a bottleneck in the theatres," says producer Madhu Mantena, whose co-production Mausam is all set for a September 23 release, right in the middle of Shraddh. Continues Mantena, "Marketing and releasing films is big business now. No producer can afford to miss a strategic Friday just because it falls in a supposedly inauspicious timeline. Who is to say what is auspicious? Diwali is considered the most auspicious time for release. But if you check the number of films that flopped during Diwali during the past five years you'll wonder if it makes sense to coincide a release with a festive season."

Be that as it might, it's Salman Khan for Eid, Aamir Khan for Christmas and Shah Rukh Khan for Diwali.

Alas, smaller films cannot afford to reserve coveted Fridays during these three seasons. Producer, Sunil Bohra who is all set to release his medium-budget Sahib Bibi Aur Gangster on September 30 explains, "Producers don't really have a choice any longer. Ramzan and the Shraddh are the only two windows open for medium-budget films."

Producer-distributor Anil Thadani feels the Indian Premier League (IPL) and World Cup are eating into the time-band available for releases. Producers therefore have no choice but to push into 'forbidden' seasons. Curiously this year even biggies like Mausam  and Force are showing up in theatres during Shraddh. Maverick producer Pritish Nandy thinks the era of consulting religious calendars before releasing films is long over. "Movies are now released during Shraddh, Ramzan and the IPL too. They come even during exam times. Producers have now realized that traditional theories no longer hold good. If a movie excites people they'll see it anyhow."

Some filmmakers still continue to subscribe to the belief that the Shraddh period affects lives and movies.

Vikram Bhatt who started shooting Dangerous Ishq with Karisma Kapoor last Thursday, had a token shooting last week.  "I did a little pooja and took one shot of Karisma last week, because I didn't want to start shooting during Shraddh," says the director. Says Bhatt, "Your personal faith is bound to reflect in your creative and practical decisions."

Sagar Ballary whose Hum Tum Shabana releases on September 30 feels there's no room for superstition in present day entertainment. "Old school thoughts and traditions are no longer factors to stop films from being released. Of course there are still a big set of old school filmmakers who go by the religious calendar. But there's a new breed in Bollywood that has moved on."

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