Hindi film industry gears up for a power-packed summer bonanza

MUMBAI: Each year, the summer movie season arrives with the promise of big-budget excitement of the kind only Bollywood can inspire. However, with multiplexes screening the IPL 3 live for the first time in India, there were very few watchable films that were screened.

Now, with summer’s first two notable releases – Housefull and Badmaash Company, the industry’s woes are finally over. The audience is back in the theaters as are the movies. What’s more, coming up are the Hrithik Roshan starrer Kites, Prakash Jha’s multi-starrer Raajneeti, Mani Ratnam’s Raavan and Vipul Shah’s Action Replayy, which are all set to scorch screens over the next couple of months.

As per industry estimates, approximately Rs 2 – 2.5 billion (Rs 200 – 250 crore) is riding on Hindi films this summer.

Roshan’s Kites will release on 21 May and with the actor appearing on the big screen after almost a year and a half, he is likely to be welcomed by the audience. Two weeks later, Raajneeti hits theaters on 4 June. The movie stars Ajay Devgn, Nasseruddin Shah, Arjun Rampal, Ranbir Kapoor, Manoj Bajpai and Katrina Kaif amongst others. After a gap of another two weeks, Mani Ratnam’s Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer Raavan will be released on 18 June.

Apart from the biggies, some medium budget films like UTV and Dharma Productions’ I Hate Luv Storys starring Imran Khan and Sonam Kapoor, Aamir Khan Productions’ Peepli Live, Percept Picture Company’s Bumm Bumm Bole, UTV’s Peter Gaya Kaam Se, Anil Kapoor Productions’ Aisha and Rahul Dholakia’s Lamhaa amongst are set to release in the coming months.

The Hindi film industry has also seen a better release scheduled this year as compared to last year. Due to the standoff between multiplexes and producers last year, a whole lot of movies – big and small – were lined up for release one after another towards the latter half of the year once the strike was called off.

Films that have been released in the first half of 2010 like Dulha Mil Gaya, Rann, Teen Patti, Chance Pe Dance, Well Done Abba, Hum Tum Aur Ghost, Chase, Click, Shaapit, Mittal VS Mittal, Paathshaala, Phoonk 2, Apartment, Saadiyaan, Tum Milo Toh Sahi, Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hain and City of Gold amongst others have cost the industry dearly and have hardly contributed to the overall box office pie.

While occupancy levels at theaters have been low these past two months with no big movie release, with the release of films like Housefull, Badmaash Company, Iron Man 2, the footfalls have increased considerably. A multiplex official informs, "Occupancy levels were severely affected at multiplexes these last couple of months. With merely 10 – 20 per cent occupancy, it is difficult to survive in this business and that has been the scenario for the better part of this year. However, with big releases lined up back to back, there will be a considerable increase with occupancy rising to at least 65 – 70 per cent on an average. The next two months look promising with the releases that are lined up, which will give a much-needed fillip to the business."