Politics over films: Election fever grips Bollywood
With the country heading to polls this April and May, it’s not just the Indian Premier League (IPL) that has had to make changes in its schedule. Bollywood films have not been immune to the election fever either. With all eyes on the elections, filmmakers, whose films are slated to release between April and May, are looking at alternate release dates.
Tiger Shroff’s 'Heropanti' is among the films that have been postponed due to elections
Sajid Nadiadwala’s film, 'Heropanti', starring Tiger Shroff, has been pushed from May 16 to May 25. Speaking to hitlist, Nadiadwala says, “We had initially planned to release the film on May 16, but since it is a counting day, we have decided to push the film ahead to May 23. We have also requested Karan Johar to release his film 'Ungli' on another day. He has gracefully agreed to do the same, just so that Tiger’s film gets a solo release.”
Himesh Reshammiya’s film, 'Xpose', was supposed to release on May 16, but it will release a week later due to the elections
Himesh Reshammiya’s film, The 'Xpose', where the musician-turned-actor plays a role inspired by yesteryear hero, Raj Kumar, will also release on another day. This film too was slated to release on May 16, but it will now hit the big screen on May 23.
Rakesh Upadhyay, Reshammiya’s business partner, says that their film has been pushed ahead for the same reason as Heropanti. “On May 16, the whole nation will be watching election results, so it does not make sense to release our film on the same day.”
Trade analyst Vikas Mohan feels that election days are a big threat to films. “Moreover, May 16 will see the release of the Hollywood film, 'Godzilla'. What if this film, like 300, eats into Bollywood films’ box office collections?” he points out.
Kangna Ranaut’s film, 'Revolver Rani', will release in April during the election season
It seems that while cricket and cinema have slowly started to co-exist, they may not be able to compete against the elections. It is also being said that promotions of upcoming films will now get affected. Vishal Anand of Fun Cinemas says, “With IPL and elections round the corner, the films releasing in April are going to face stiff competition. More than IPL, it’s the Lok Sabha polls that are expected to hog the limelight.” He reveals that in April, big films such as 'Main Tera Hero', 'Bhootnath Returns', 'Revolver Rani', 'Kaanchi' and '2 States' are up for release.
“The good thing is that election date falls on Thursday, but sadly these films stand the chance of being overshadowed by elections and IPL. No wonder then, a lot of producers are looking at alternate dates. This move is aimed at maximising collections for the makers and exhibitors,” he adds.
Shailesh Kapoor, co-founder and CEO, Ormax Media, agrees with film producers’ decisions to shift their release dates. “If films like 'Heropanti' and 'Xpose' are rescheduling, it is a wise move. Since there will be a lot of media noise surrounding the elections, movies releasing in this period will have to spend an additional 15-20 percent on their promotions to create the required amount of buzz. However, a film like Bhoothnath Returns will benefit strongly during this period, as it has a thematic connect with the elections and the makers are aggressively promoting the same.”
But not all filmmakers are worried about elections. Mukesh Bhatt’s film, 'Citylights', which is being directed by Hansal Mehta, was initially scheduled to release on May 1; its release date has now been shifted to May 23. But Bhatt says that their date has been moved ahead only because ‘they don’t want to hurry the film’. “We won’t be ready by May 1 and there’s no point in releasing it in a hurry. I am not really worried about the elections,” he says. However, he agrees that more often than not, it’s the small and medium budget films that get released during elections and IPL.
Trade pundits predict some more reshuffling of dates by filmmakers. Taran Adarsh says that this year’s election has the country hooked on to it. “To add to it, filmmakers today want their movie to rake in the moolah in the first week itself. So producers will have to rethink their release dates,” he says.
Trade analyst Amod Mehra chimes in, “When election fever is at its peak, all work comes to a standstill and cinema comes last on people’s priority list. So it is better to release your films alongside another film rather than release it during elections.”