With the Tamil Nadu government announcing lockdown measures due to the surging second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kollywood is once again facing the prospect of its release schedule going for a toss. Films that were targeting a summer release are now unsure about their plan as there is no mention of the duration of the new lockdown.
On Monday, the makers of MGR Magan, starring Sasikumar and Sathyaraj, stated that they were postponing the film’s release. Their press release read, “As COVID-19 cases are on the rise, in the best interests of everyone, and to ensure that the hard work of the people who have worked on our film reaches the audience in the right way, we have decided to postpone the release of our film. We will release the film after discussions with distributors across Tamil Nadu once the situation turns favourable.” The film’s director Ponram tells us, “We are ready with the film, but the producers felt that it’s better to postpone the release now considering the various restrictions.”
Earlier, on April 3, the producers of Thalaivi, a biopic of former chief minister Jayalalithaa, starring Kangana Ranaut and Arvind Swami, which had also intended to hit screens on April 23, had deferred its release. “With an alarming rise in COVID 19 cases, subsequent precautions and lockdowns, even though our film is ready for release on 23rd April, we want to extend support towards the government rules and regulations and have decided to postpone the release.
The makers of Rio Raj and Ramya Nambeesan’s Plan Panni Pannanum, who had announced April 30 as their release date, are also now uncertain about the film’s release. The director, Badri Venkatesh, says, “We are waiting to take a call after four or five days because the government has not specified for how long these lockdown rules will apply. And we have already postponed our release once; we were supposed to release in the last week of March last year.”
A handful of films featuring popular stars are planning to release in May, and it looks like the current situation might upset their release plans as well. The upcoming releases include Sivakarthikeyan’s Doctor, Vijay Sethupathi’s Laabam, Arun Vijay’s Borrder and Vijay Antony’s Kodiyil Oruvan.
The new lockdown rules include night curfew and total lockdown on Sundays. This has also led to uncertainty among exhibitors as well.
In an audio note shared to members, Tirupur Subramaniam, president of Tamil Nadu Exhibitors Association, has called for a virtual meeting of theatre owners. “We have already been under an eight-month lockdown. And there was hardly any business after we reopened with 50 per cent audience. As far as I know, four films — Master, Godzilla vs Kong, Sulthan and Karnan — have done business for us. We have to discuss if it would be possible for us to function if this situation continues.”
We get a lot of business on Sundays and with our night shows. We were getting better in the last couple of months, but the unexpected rise in the number of cases has again put a brake on the business. But the restrictions are unavoidable. I hope things get to normal as soon as the number of cases decreases.
— valliappan, Kamala Cinemas
Even if there is a big change in the schedule and May release plans go for a toss, I’m hopeful that by June, things should be back to normal. From Monday, we are operating only one screen until we get new content.
— Rakesh, Vettri Theatres