In a month’s time, at least four Tollywood productions — ‘Kishmish’, ‘Raavan’, ‘Aparajito’ and ‘Belashuru’ — have managed to get viewers back to the theatres to watch Bengali cinema. Prior to that, city exhibitors had to bank on the south Indian, Hindi and English films to woo the audience to the ticket counters. Though it is too premature to compare the business done by these with what was garnered by ‘Kashmir Files’, ‘RRR’ or even ‘KGF: Chapter 2’, there is no denying the fact that the foursome have offered content, which viewers are ready to watch on the big screen.
Distributor Satadeep Saha, who has successfully released ‘Tonic’, ‘Kishmish’ and ‘Aparajito’, said, “We do not need any movement to ‘save Bengali cinema’. People will come to the theatres if the movie is good. There is an audience for different genres of films. Currently, 90% of the showcasing of films in multiplexes is in favour of Bengali cinema. That’s only because of the merit of Bengali movies.” In the pipeline are forthcoming releases including Arindam Sil’s ‘Tirandaj Shabor’, Prosenjit Chatterjee’s ‘Aay Khuku Aay’, Raj Chakraborty’s ‘Habji Gabji’ and Srijit Mukherji’s ‘X=Prem’. “We now need to space out and release the forthcoming films so that everyone can do good business,” Saha added. Suranjan Paul, owner of Bijoli that hosted the premiere of Nandita Roy-Shiboprosad Mukherjee’s ‘Belashuru’ on Friday, said nothing can beat the happiness of seeing people queue up to watch Bengali movies. “Bijoli used to host many premieres of Soumitra Chatterjee’s films from the golden era. It is so nostalgic to see such a phenomenal turnout at the premiere of his ‘Belashuru’. The film is running successfully in the Minar-Bijoli-Chhabighar chain. I also got a great response for ‘Kishmish’. ‘Raavan’ is still running,” Paul said. Firdausul Hasan, producer of ‘Aparajito’, is overwhelmed by the film’s pan-India audience response. Running in eight states now, the Anik Dutta film is being screened in six theatres in Mumbai. “In Bengaluru and Hyderabad, the number of halls has been increased. We have given a content that both Bengalis and non-Bengalis are watching in theatres. It feels good to see that by the virtue of its merit, some shows reserved for Hindi cinema in Kolkata have also been diverted to ‘Aparajito’. Shows that were increased at the last moment have also drawn a full house,” Hasan said.
‘Belashuru’, which was released by distributor Bablu Damani in 105 theatres across Bengal, has got a fabulous opening. “Movie-goer always smell a film that is worth their money at the theatres. ‘Belashuru’ had 65% opening on the first day. On Saturday, the turnout touched 75%. On Sunday, there was 90% occupancy in theatres. Next week, we are planning a pan-India release,” Damani said.