There’s a mood of euphoria in the trade, now that the chief minister of Maharashtra has assured an industry delegation that he would grant permission to cinemas in the state to reopen from 22nd October. An industry delegation was told by CM Uddhav Thackeray today (25th September) that cinemas in the state would be allowed to restart operations from 22nd October. After this, the only two states in which cinemas are still shut are Kerala and Assam. However, with Maharashtra cinemas set to restart operations, it is certain that producers will start planning the release of their big-budget films. It didn’t make sense for the biggies to release without cinemas in Maharashtra being functional because not only is Bombay (in Maharashtra) the nerve-centre of Bollywood but also because the contribution of the box-office in Maharashtra to the all-India theatrical revenues is huge (20-25%). It is for this reason that not many big-budget films came to the theatres in the past two-three months.

It is very likely that Rohit Shetty brings his Sooryavanshi to the cinemas on Diwali (4th November). The film, jointly produced by Shetty, Reliance Entertainment, Akshay Kumar and Karan Johar, was scheduled for release in March last year but the first Coronavirus pandemic lockdown raised its ugly head. Cinemas reopened in November last year, after a shutdown of eight months, but the second wave of the virus prompted a second lockdown before the film’s release could be re-scheduled. Cinemas in various states started to open in July this year as the lockdown relaxation rules were announced one by one by various states. But Rohit Shetty, like all big producers, was waiting for cinemas in Maharashtra to reopen. Now that Maharashtra has announced its plans to reopen cinemas, the stage is set for Sooryavanshi to hit the screens. If it does come on Diwali, the Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif starrer will release after a delay of 19 months!

Rohit Shetty, who did not succumb to temptation to premiere his ‘Sooryavanshi’ on OTT but held back its release for 19 months!

An ecstatic Rohit Shetty told Information, “The wait has been tough, very tough. But finally, we will be able to release our film in the cinemas, and that’s what gives me the utmost joy. At least for the fact that we waited so long to have our film release in the cinemas, it should do well. I pray to God that our film gets the love of the audience.” Shetty was driving back home after the long meeting with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray when Information rang him up to ask him whether Sooryavanshi would be the Diwali offering this year. A thrilled Rohit revealed, “Let me reach office, and plan things out. Yes, I will try to come on Diwali. (My hero and co-producer) Akshay (Kumar) is not in town, so I will have to consider the pros and cons all by myself, in conjunction with Reliance Entertainment.” The ecstatic Shetty went on to reveal, “I was with the CM since this morning. It wasn’t easy to convince him because he has to think of the entire state and its people. But we managed to convince him and I’m so thankful, he saw our logic. Let me tell you, this wait has not been easy. After all, to hold back the release of such a big film, that too, for 18-19 months is no mean task. I hate to brag but I can say with pride that I paid my entire staff full salaries during the two lockdowns.”

Rohit Shetty also let us in to the fact that the panel of doctors, which the CM consults before announcing anything during these Coronavirus times, was not with him during the meeting today. The CM said, revealed Rohit, the panel will have to be briefed on Monday (27th September). “I will visit the CM again on Monday to request him to grant us permission to hold shows till 12 midnight instead of 10 p.m. as in many states,” Rohit told Information. “If he does so, it will be better in all respects as there will be less burden on cinemas since the crowds of the evening and night shows will get divided.”