Film Famine in May

Rajkummar Rao in Srikanth, one of the few films that have maintained their date in May with the audience. Photo: Sterling Global 

Looks like the Sanjay Leela Bhansali series, Heeramandi on Netflix, is the biggest happening on May 2024! Because there is no film release on OTT this month, and theatrical prospects are bleak, unless there is a dark horse that is set to ride! So, dear audience, in these days when theatrical reruns are almost non-existent, go back to movies you have missed, or want to revisit, on the all-inclusive OTT platforms!

The combination of both Indian Premier League (IPL) Cricket Matches (an annual affair now) and the General Elections has led to most films postponing their releases to June and beyond, never mind if more films clash with each other later this year. “Kya karen (What can we do)! There are only 52 Fridays in a week!” says trade guru Taran Adarsh.

As per Adarsh, films have never been really affected by IPL, except during certain matches of special interest or near the Finals. But elections are a key reason. Plus, this writer strongly feels that the damage done to movies in terms of the audience response by the lethal combination of spiraling ticket prices and declining mass appeal (the Theatrical Quotient, as I have always put it) is another story altogether, as the scenario was never so dull in cinema in 2019, when the last General Elections were held.

This time, the opening film of the month, The Sabarmati Report, a small-budget movie on the 2002 Godhra conspiracy, was the first to be postponed—to August 2! Its potentially controversial content could be an add-on reason, though. Another film that did not take the risk of doing lesser business was the star-studded Kalki 2898 AD featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Prabhas and Deepika Padukone that has been moved to June.

Chandu Champion, a sports biopic featuring Kartik Aaryan as India’s first Paralympic gold medallist Murlikant Petkar, has also been moved forward, as are Tehran featuring John Abraham and the small-budget underworld drama, Bombay.

As for Auron Mein Kahan Dam Tha?, filmmaker Neeraj Pandey and actor Ajay Devgn have wisely decided to shift the release from May all the way to September. The prospect of having a hat-trick of releases (Shaitaan came in March, Maidaan in April) was not considered favorable. Industry sources feel that too many releases of the same big star lead to a drop in interest, as the days are gone when big names had five to eight releases in a single year! The underwhelming performance of the brilliant Maidaan seems to have confirmed this theory.

So what are we left with?

As per Wikipedia, which keeps updating its list as per filmmakers’ decisions, the first release of the month will be Srikanth, featuring Rajkummar Rao, Alaya F and Jyothika, on May 10. This Tushar Hiranandani-directed movie is a biopic on the visually- impaired Srikanth Bolla, who became an industrialist despite his handicap. Clashing with it will be Tippsy, a pulp thriller seemingly, with Deepak Tijori as director and leading man.

May 17 will see Shreyas Talpade and Madhoo in Kartam Bhugtam, a small movie directed by Soham A. Shah, while May 24 has Chhota Bheem and the Curse of Damyaan top-lined by Anupam Kher and Makrand Deshpande and Bhaiyya Ji featuring Manoj Bajpayee.

It is only on May 31, when elections will be almost over (June 1) that two bigger films will keep their dates with the audience: the Karan Johar production, Mr & Mrs Mahi featuring Rajkummar Rao (who is no star but will have two releases of different genres within this month!) and Janhvi Kapoor, and the actioner Baby John, featuring Varun Dhawan, Keerthy Suresh and Wamiqa Gabbi and being directed by Kalees for Jawan director Atlee’s production banner.

As veteran exhibitor Raj Bansal puts it, “Where are the interesting films coming anyway?” Single-screens and multiplexes are thus set to have a terrible time this month, and the true-blue Hindi film audience will have to forgo their diet of cinema with negligible exceptions, in what is famous as the summer holidays season known for bumper releases and successes.





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