Films are returning to cinema halls, but the audience is still wary about watching movies on the 70mm screen with many others. Janhvi Kapoor’s Roohi, John Abraham’s Mumbai Saga and Arjun Kapoor–Parineeti Chopra’s Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar couldn’t lure people back to the theaters in large numbers. Now, with Saina, a sports biopic based on the life of India’s ace badminton player Saina Nehwal, releasing this Friday, the film trade experts are expecting increased footfall in the theaters.
Suggesting that sports films always find takers at the ticket counters, film trade analyst and producer Girish Johar shared, “Saina’s trailer has been appreciated. Saina Nehwal has done wonders and brought laurels to the country, so people are fans of her and would want to watch a film on her life. Parineeti (Chopra) is also being applauded for her latest performances in Netflix release The Girl on the Train and Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar. So, I am expecting a decent start for the film despite the pandemic.”
The Amole Gupte-directed film, featuring Parineeti in the titular role, traces the journey of Saina Nehwal from being a small-town girl to becoming the first Indian badminton player to win a medal at the Olympics and the first Indian to be ranked number one badminton player in the world. It also stars Manav Kaul as Pullela Gopichand, Eshan Naqvi as Parupalli Kashyap and Meghna Malik as Saina’s mother Usha Rani Nehwal.
Even though sports films have many takers, Saina’s box office performance might be hampered. Johar said, “It is a niche, upmarket film and not a wider market film. It is for the top 10-12 cities. So, that might affect the film’s business. Also, given the lockdowns being announced again in a few states, we can only hope that Saina gets a good opening.”
Along with Saina, the other major release of the week, Rana Daggubati’s Haathi Mere Saathi, got postponed due to an increase in the coronavirus cases across the country.
Commenting on the film’s big-screen release being put on hold, Girish Johar said, “COVID-19 cases are rising, with cases rising the scare among the audience is increasing too and the protocol of 50% occupancy is still there. In such a scenario, getting entertained and buying a ticket to watch a film is the last thing on any person’s mind. Some states are imposing lockdown post 7 pm which means you are losing the business of the evening shows. It is not a good situation for the industry. Postponement of the films derails the process of getting the normalcy back and also cause financial loss to the producers.”
However, amid such a bad scenario, the opening collection of the Hollywood film Godzilla Vs. Kong has surprised the film trade analysts. It earned Rs 6.4 crore on the day of its release. “Godzilla vs Kong has surprisingly opened fantastic. Despite a limited number of screens, no promotions, no holiday and no major star cast, the film is poised for a very impressive extended long weekend at the Indian box office,” noted Johar. He also stated that filmmakers in the South film industry “are providing what the audiences want, despite protocols and SOPs. Smart commercial cinema is ruling the Indian box office presently.”