As prominent stars in Bollywood have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past month and India approaches another peak in the latest stage of the global pandemic, Bollywood seems to be grinding to a halt with shooting and film releases delayed due theatres in Maharashtra shutting down until the end of the month.
Katrina Kaif is the latest Bollywood star to have tested positive for the virus, along with Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor, Akshay Kumar and others.
Big-budget releases lined up by major studios have taken a hit, with Salman Khan announcing that 'Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai" would be possible postponed to next Eid. Akshay Kumar's 'Sooryavanshi' has also been postponed indefinitely, with uncertainty in the wake for other films like John Abraham's 'Satyamev Jayate 2'.
Kangana Ranaut had earlier confirmed that her Jayalalitha biopic 'Thalaivi' would release on schedule this April but with new restrictions coming into place all over India, it remains to be seen whether such timely releases are possible.
With 30-35% of revenue coming from theatres in Maharashtra, theatre owners are sceptical of getting back to business without them opening. AkshayRathe, a film exhibitioner spoke to Hindustan Times to confirm the same.
"Given the fact that Maharashtra is shutting down, it's possibly the biggest market in terms of box office revenue for Hindi films. With that out of the equation, no producer would want to release in other belts," he said.
"Most Hindi and Hollywood films this month are planning to change dates. The impact of Maharashtra is on the other parts of the country as well. It is extremely damaging, after close to a year of being shut."
The closures spark bad news for an already struggling industry that had just seen a ray of hope this year with vaccinations and theatre openings providing some impetus for new productions.