Disney+ Hotstar today (29th June) announced its slate of seven films which will premiere on the platform. Of these, four films are Disney production ventures while three are acquisitions. The four films produced by Disney Fox and to be premiered from July onwards are Laxmmi Bomb, Sadak 2, Dil Bechara and Lootcase. The three outside acquisitions are Bhuj: The Pride Of India, The Big Bull and Khuda Haafiz.
Akshay Kumar (Laxmmi Bomb), Ajay Devgan (Bhuj: The Pride Of India and The Big Bull), Abhishek Bachchan (The Big Bull) and Alia Bhatt (Sadak 2) were present at the virtual press conference at which Uday Shankar, president, The Walt Disney Company APAC, and chairman, Star and Disney India, made the big announcement. Varun Dhawan was the master of ceremonies.
The seven films will be premiered between July and October this year. The slate will start with the streaming of Dil Bechara on 24th July. As everyone is aware, cinemas all over India are shut due to the COVID-19 lockdown, and nobody knows when they will reopen and when the public will start flocking to the cinemas in large numbers. OTT premieres have come in as a boon to producers whose monies have been blocked in films awaiting cinema release. Gulabo Sitabo was the first major film to have been premiered on an OTT platform (on 12th June). With Shakuntala Devi also slated to premiere on Amazon Prime (like Gulabo Sitabo), Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl announced for premiere on Netflix, and the seven announcements made by Disney+ Hotstar, the number of films scheduled to bypass theatrical release has gone up to 10. Of course, at least five to seven more films have been finalised for premiere on OTT but the formal announcement thereof has yet to be made.
At the press conference, Akshay Kumar said, he was very excited while working in Laxmmi Bomb because he liked the genre (horror comedy). Thanking the film’s other producers, Shabina Khan and Tusshar Kapoor, and director, Raghava Lawrence, he added that the experience of playing a eunuch in the film was very good. He especially said, wearing a saree to play the character was not easy initially. But he described the attire as the best in the world.
Ajay Devgan explained that Bhuj: The Pride Of India was based on a true-life incident during the 1971 war. He added that it was a story of just one day and night. The film co-stars Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha and Nora Fatehi.
Abhishek Bachchan thanked Ajay Devgan and the other producers of The Big Bull for casting him in the film. He added that this was his second film with Devgan as producer, the first being Bol Bachchan. The Big Bull is directed by Kuki Gulati and co-stars Ileana D’cruz and Soham Shah.
Alia Bhatt revealed that she was super-excited about Sadak 2 because it was a home production, and it was directed by her dad (Mahesh Bhatt). She reminisced about how as a child, she used to feel very proud when her father’s films used to release as her friends were crazy about the songs of films made by the Bhatts. She said, she was happy to be acting in the Sadak sequel, also because she got to be a part of the music of the Bhatts. She described the film as a love story and said, she and Aditya Roy Kapur were the newbies in the sequel along with old-timers Sanjay Dutt and Pooja Bhatt.
Posters of Laxmmi Bomb, Bhuj: The Pride Of India, The Big Bull and Sadak 2 were revealed. Posters of the other three films — Dil Bechara (starring Sushant Singh Rajput), Khuda Haafiz (starring Vidyut Jammwal) and Lootcase (ensemble cast including Kunal Khemu, Rasika Duggal, Gajraj Rao and Vijay Raaz) — to be premiered on the platform, were also unveiled.
Uday Shankar explained that digital premieres should be viewed as giving a new lease of life to the film industry. He as also Akshay and Ajay opined that premiering films on OTT platforms did not mean the end of cinema as films are first and foremost made for cinema. They added that content would be made for the big screen as well as OTT platforms and both would co-exist. As Uday Shankar remarked, “Please don’t view OTT premieres as a tactical short-term arrangement but rather as a big leap forward.” He also said, Disney’s OTT platform was the biggest in the world and hence films premiered on Disney+ Hotstar would reach the public in the big cities, ‘B’ and ‘C’ class centres as well as in rural areas.