Posted: 24 March 2011 at 1:34am | IP Logged
Cricket vs films
The World Cup cricket and the forthcoming IPL ARE no 'match' for content-oriented films, say filmmakers. A REPORT.
has always been crazy about cricket and the game has managed to hold on
even after the major match-fixing controversy that was an eye-opener to
many, some years back. Yet every time a cricket match is played, the
stakes are high and this year several bookies have already been
arrested since the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 began on February 19. The
cricket madness will continue till April 2 when the final T20 match
will be played. Six days later, on April 8, the fourth season of the
Indian Premier League (IPL) will commence in Chennai and conclude on
As the game of cricket gets rolling, a pertinent question
that arises is what happens to films in the coming weeks? Only Tanu
Weds Manu that released on February 25 has clicked at the box-office
dismissing fears that cricket affects films.
The period from
February 19 to May 28 is crucial as it takes a lot of planning to
release a film as people are glued to their television sets.
year, however, there is an equal balance of big-budget as well as small
films that are hitting the screens. The Anupam Kher-starrer Yeh Faasley
did average business when released on February 25. Satrangee Parachute
came on March 4. Monica: The Politics Of Murder revolves around the
corporate-political nexus in the telecom sector and Divya Dutta who
plays Monica has shades of both Shivani Bhatnagar and Nira Radia. This
will hit the theatres on March 25.
Two big-budget films release on
April 1. They are Abhinay Deo's ambitious debut directorial Game
starring Abhishek Bachchan, Kangna Ranaut, Sarah Jane Dias, Jimmy
Sheirgill, Boman Irani and Anupam Kher and choreographer Remo D'Souza's
debut directorial F.A.L.T.U with Jackky Bhagnani, Puja Gupta, Arshad
Warsi and Riteish Deshmukh in the lead. One is an action thriller while
the other is a campus caper.
Anees Bazmee's Thank You, a comedy with
Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol, Suniel Shetty, Irrfan, Sonam Kapoor and
Celina Jaitly is another biggie that releases on April 8. The following
week has Mrigdeep Singh Lamba's Teen Thay Bhai starring Om Puri,
Shreyas Talpade, Deepak Dobriyal and Ragini Khanna hitting the screens
as also Bhavna Talwar's comedy Happi with Pankaj Kapur. Director Bijoy Nambiar brings in Shaitan on April 22.
Dum Maaro Dum will be Abhishek Bachchan's second film in the month of
April. Rohan Sippy's thriller also starring Bipasha Basu, Pratik Babbar
and Rana Daggubati also comes to the theatres on April 22 along with
Onir's I Am starring an ensemble cast. Chalo Dilli, Lara Dutta's debut
production with her and Vinay Pathak in the lead will release on April
29 along with producer Ekta Kapoor's thriller Shor - In The City
starring Tusshar Kapoor and Sendhil Ramamurthy.
The month of May
will have Haunted, Vikram Bhatt's horror film starring Mahakshay and
Tia Bajpai. The Ekta Kapoor-produced romantic thriller, Ragini MMS, is
a Hindi and Telugu bilingual set to release on May 13. It is a
co-production between Balaji Alt Entertainment and iRock Films. Another
film releasing that day is Love U...Mr. Kalakaar! by debutant director
S Mansavi, an alumnus of FTII, with Tusshar Kapoor and Amrita Rao
pairing for the first time.
Though the cricket fever is increasing
as examinations are getting over, filmmakers are positive that their
films will not be neglected. Bijoy Nambiar, whose
Shaitan stars Rajeev Khandelwal and Kalki Koechlin, stated that though
he had never frozen the release date, he has now opted for April 22. He
is of the opinion that small-budget films are devoid of any 'noise'
while big films have heavy- duty PR machinery. Agreeing that cricket is
a national level addiction with even the newspapers and TV channels
focussing on the game, he says, "If your content is good, people will
go to watch it, irrespective of whether is a big or a small film."
Talwar, who earlier made Dharm with Pankaj Kapur, is ready to release
Happi on April 15 to "coincide with the birth anniversary of Charlie
Chaplin. Happi is a tribute to Chaplin on whom Kapoor's character is
modelled." Talwar says that despite the World Cup, there is a market
for film lovers. "How much TV can a person watch? A family needs to
take a break, go out and enjoy. Moreover it is the people to choose
whether to watch cricket or enjoy a good film in the theatre," she
says. Made at a budget of 5 crore, the maker is certain of recovering
the cost. Another filmmaker who is certain of reaching out to the
audience is Onir. Cricket will be on for months, he says, but that
should not affect the business of films. "The hype is only in the
beginning and towards the end of the matches. Fatigue does set in.
Moreover, last year Love Sex Aur Dhokha came during the matches but
found its audience." I Am is made within three crore and Onir confesses
that making a film at this cost today is unthinkable but "I did it with
the backing of some good friends."
"The audience is very
unpredictable. People who want to see a film will go for it. There are
a lot of small-budget films releasing this month, and the films that
are good will stay," adds Divya Dutta.
"On April 1, when we release
Game, there is no match and then on April 2 are the World Cup finals.
By then, one will be drained of cricket and be ready for Game," beamed
producer Ritesh Sidhwani at a press conference. Like him, his actor
Abhishek Bachchan does not agree that the cricket season is an
'off-season' for film releases. "Who says it's a risky time? I believe
that if you make a quality product, no matter what period of the year
it is, people will go and watch it. In India, audiences are passionate
about films. A good film is almost part of their daily life, which is
very hard for them to resist." He also shared that on the day India
played England, the channels got the highest TRPs ever for any sporting
event and at the same time Tanu Weds Manu also got the highest weekday
collections. "Also, when the first IPL came nobody released films, then
Race came and became a major grosser. We have 1.2 billion people and
everybody is not going to watch cricket... even if half of them watch
cricket, the other half will come and watch the movie, which is more
than enough for us," he reasoned.
Trade analyst Komal Nahata says
that generally producers have this feeling that they should avoid
releasing their films during the World Cup and the IPL. There are no
major releases in March, he adds, saying that cricket cannot be a
competition for good films. "Did cricket affect the prospects of Tanu
Weds Manu? It went on to become a hit and is still doing well," he
points out. Agrees Tigmanshu Dhulia, "Good business happens when the
content is good, be it in the multiplexes or single-screens." Dhulia,
who is releasing Shagird starring Nana Patekar, Anurag Kashyap and
Mohit Ahlawat on May 6 all over, says that people watch only the
important matches and the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. "I
would like to know how many people watched the Kenya playing Canada.
The interest is more when India is on the field. Moreover, immediately
after the World Cup is the IPL. So viewership automatically declines as
people get bored by then," he points out. Dhulia is confident about
recovering 100 per cent of the seven crore spent on the film as
Reliance Big Pictures is backing it.
Nambiar says that the cost
recovery depends from movie to movie and its connect with the audience.
Talking about the multiplexes keeping heavy ticket rates (Rs 150) for
small-budget films, Nahata states, "The multiplexes do not really alter
their ticket rates. That is one major reason why small-budget films get
Nambiar feels that there should be a
clear demarcation between big and small films. "If the government gives
a subsidy for small films it would be a big support for small
filmmakers like me," he says. "It is time the film industry does
something about it," agrees Talwar. Nodding in the affirmative, Onir is
of the opinion that the ticketing system needs to be regulated. "People
cannot spent exorbitantly on small-budget films," he points out. The
remedy to this, he says, is that anywhere in the world, good cinema has
the support of the government and once tax benefit is implemented,
automatically content- oriented films get noticed.
This only shows that finally it is content that matters, cricket or no cricket.