Almost everybody associated with the film industry is despondent about the future. With COVID-19 numbers increasing by the day in India nad no signs of vaccine, the mood of industry workers has turned pessimistic.
Shooting of several movies has stopped. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai and Boney Kapoor’s Maidaan had to raze their sets as they could not afford to have them standing any longer. Now, they will have to bear the cost of reconstructing the sets again, along with the sanitisation process that will further increase the cost.
Cinema halls are shut. Several movies that were lined up for release are on hold – Kabir Khan directed 83, Rohit Shetty’s cop drama Sooryavanshi, Laxmmi Bomb, to name a few. James Bond movie ‘No Time to Die’ hs been delayed until November. Delay in the release of these tentpole films impacted the release calendar of the entire year.
Irrfan Khan starrer Angrezi Medium is the first casualty of the pandemic.
“While producers have a certain cost, the biggest loses will be borne by exhibitors, who will have to bear the cost of overheads with no recovery till this blows over,” an industry expert said.
But, even if the theatres were to open now, they do not have anything to showcase. Many films have been committed to OTT platforms, and that too because the producers do not have any other choice.
“Films have gone to OTT, majboori mein”
Several movies that were on the verge of completion were stopped; films that were in post-production could not be completed. As of now, shoots are only happening abroad. So, one can imagine the plight of daily-wage workers.
“Actors will have to reduce their fee for the films under production. If the producer or studio bleeds, how will they release the film?” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
Leading distributor, Ramesh Sippy, however, feels that one can only arrive at a figure (of the actual losses) only after things get back to normal; right now it is still the counting stage. “I mean the day you can have the final figure, is about 2 to 3 years away, optimistically speaking 2 years.”
But several industry insiders and experts feel Bollywood has incurred losses of well over 5000+ crores till now due to the pandemic.
Film celebrities donate generously to fight Coronavirus
Bollywood and other film stars donated generously to help the government battle Covid-19.
Bollywood ‘Khiladi’ Akshay Kumar pledged to contribute a whopping Rs.25 crore (Rs250 million) to PM Narendra Modi’s relief fund.
His wife Twinkle Khanna says when she asked him if he was sure as it was such a massive amount, he just said, ‘I had nothing when I started and now that I am in this position, how can I hold back from doing whatever I can for those who have nothing.’
Shah Rukh Khan offered his four-storey personal office space to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), to be utilised as quarantine facility for quarantined children, women & elderly.
Shah Rukh also contributed to the PM-Cares Fund through his IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), and to the Maharashtra CM’s Relief Fund through his film production banner, Red Chillies Entertainment.
“After we approached Salman Khan, he asked us to give him a count of the most affected workers from our association and we told him there were 25,000 such artistes. He has decided to contribute for them. We will be sending him the list in the evening,” said Tiwari, president of Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE).
Ajay Devgn donated Rs 51 lakh to support daily wage workers of film industry. He contributed the amount to Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE).
Bhushan Kumar, the T-Series head, pledged to donate Rs.110 million (Rs.11 crores) to PM relief fund.
Prabhas, the Baahubali actor Prabhas pledged Rs.40 million (Rs.4 cr) towards the COVID-19 relief fund.
South Indian star ‘Allu Arjun’ pledged to donate Rs 12.5 million (Rs. 1.25Cr.) to Telengana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala to fight against coronavirus.
Superstar Rajinikanth donated Rs5 million (Rs.50 lakh) for relief work.
Street Dancer actor Varun Dhawan promised to contribute Rs3 million (Rs. 30 lakh) to the PM Care Fund.
Singer Guru Randhawa pledged to contribute Rs 20 lacs from his savings to PM-CARES Fund.
Director Rajkumar Hirani also pledged to contribute, although he did not mention the amount.
FWICE president has criticized Bollywood stars for rushing to donate to PM-Cares fund but ignoring the under-privileged in its own industry.
Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) president BN Tiwari has lashed out to Bollywood celebrities for ignoring the industry workers who are left with no income during the lockdown.
Lot of celebrities have pledged big amounts to PM-Cares fund, but very few have come forward to donate for the workers.
“It’s only going to get worse. People are preparing only for 21-day lockdown but we have five lakh (500,000) workers. If this extends for a month or two, we will need help from everyone,” says Tiwari.
What hurts Tiwari is that top actors like Akshay Kumar have pledged Rs. 25 crore (Rs250 million) to the PM-Cares fund to be in the good books of the Prime Minister, but there has been no donation yet for the federation workers. Tiwari laments that stars should also look out for the industry workers, who have played a huge role in making them superstars.
As mentioned in this report, until a few days back, it seems only Frames Production Company (and not even a single celebrity) had come forward to help the workers.
“There are a thousand people ready to fund in the PM-CARES fund but the industry, which you belong to, you should donate there first,” says Tiwari.
The association has written to several celebrities, and it seems Salman Khan will be the first celebrity in Bollywood to donate amount directly to the workers, ahead of PM-Cares fund. Tiwari shared that the federation has also written to megastar Amitabh Bachchan but is yet to hear back from him.
“After we approached Salman Khan, he asked us to give him a count of the most affected workers from our association and we told him there were 25,000 such artistes. He has decided to contribute for them,” said Tiwari.
Since then, other celebrities like Karan Johar, Taapsee Pannu and Rajkummar Rao have also pledged to donate for the daily wage artistes.
Deepika Skips Paris Fashion Week
Bollywood star Deepika Padukone was invited by globally celebrated brand Louis Vuitton to attend its show at the Paris fashion week. However, the actor decided to skip the Paris Fashion Week due to the coronavirus outbreak in France.
“Deepika Padukone was scheduled to travel to France to attend Louis Vuitton’s FW2020 Show at the ongoing Paris Fashion Week but has had to cancel her trip with news coming in that the coronavirus epidemic has now entered a new stage in France,” the actor’s spokesperson said in a statement..
Some time back, there were rumours that international film star Jackie Chan was affected by the virus. However, the actor took to social media to reassure fans that he is safe and not under quarantine.
‘Thanks for everybody’s concern! I’m safe and sound, and very healthy. Please don’t worry, I’m not in quarantine. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy too!’ he shared on Instagram.
Coronavirus to impact release of Bollywood Films in China
Coronavirus disease has already caused a big impact to China’s economy, and China being India’s biggest trading partner and also a big market for India’s domestic goods, the disease can have an impact on several sectors in India as well.
“The disruption caused, if prolonged, could have a bearing on India’s imports from the country which is critical for domestic economic activity. Finding substitutes for imports from China in the near term could be a challenge. Further, a slowdown in economic activity in China could impact exports from India,” noted credit agency CARE Ratings in a recent report.
The fatal virus disease will have an impact on Bollywood business as well.
Due to the outbreak, China has shut down almost all its movie theaters across the country (close to 70,000 theatres).
In recent years, Bollywood movies, 3 Idiots, Dangal, Secret Superstar have become huge hits in China and the demand for good Indian films is only growing. Lot of Bollywood films that had scheduled releases in China will most likely be impacted due to the disease.
The outbreak has also caused several Indian airlines to temporarily cancel/suspend flights operating from India to China and Hong Kong.
Coronavirus has also hugely affected its own film industry, with the release of several blockbuster movies now put on hold.
Chinese film studios were expecting huge crowds over the Lunar New Year holiday (which began Jan. 25), one of the biggest weeks for movie goers. However, according to ticketing platform Maoyan, the film studios were hoping to generate as much as $1 billion globally during this period, but could gross only about $2 million over the holiday weekend.
China’s government does not allow Chinese films to be released in theaters in other countries before they have made their debut in China.
In terms of box office revenue, China’s film market is next only to the United States. Many analysts believed that 2020 was the year when China would overtake the US and become the biggest film market in the world, but the Coronavirus outbreak will likely delay that feat.