By Radhika Bhirani and Priyanka Sharma
New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) Filmmakers are already looking forward to the festive season. Kicking it off will be Eid-ul-Fitr Aug 31, which will see Salman Khan's "Bodyguard" hit the theatres as Bollywood keeps up with the belief that festival times are big money spinners.
A few weeks after Eid will be another big festival, Diwali, Oct 26, which will see the release of Shah Rukh Khan's long awaited "Ra.One".
Both the festivals fall on a Wednesday; so the movies will release mid-week instead of the traditional Friday, allowing for longer weekend viewing than usual, says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
" 'Bodyguard' is releasing on Eid, which falls on a Wednesday. So it becomes a five-day extended weekend and 'Ra.One' is also releasing on a Wednesday; so the extended weekend can reap a harvest for filmmakers. Weekend business is the most important thing nowadays. It decides the fate of the film in the long run," Adarsh told IANS.
According to film trade expert Vinod Mirani, Diwali and Eid are popular dates for big films like the over-Rs.100 crore "Ra.One" due to the perceived celebratory mood of the viewers.
But he says it may not always make business sense to release a film on these festivals.
"Everyone is happy on these festivals and wants to celebrate and spend. But one has to understand that Diwali and the day after Diwali are not great for collections. People have guests and relatives coming in throughout the day, some people also go to work for their bonus and in evenings they have ceremonies at home...so there's hardly time for a Bollywood movie," Mirani told IANS.
"On Eid also people are busy with festivities, but almost 13-14 percent Muslims in India like going to the cinemas. So after days of fasting, movies are a mode of enjoyment for them," he said.
He also notes that people do spend some extra money on weekends.
"Bodyguard" is not the only movie releasing on Eid.
Pakistani film "Bol", directed by filmmaker Shoaib Mansoor of "Khuda Kay Liye" fame, will also open to Indian audiences on the festival.
" 'Bol' is a hugely emotional film...so releasing it on a celebratory event like Eid enhances the stature of the film. By releasing it on Eid, we are giving the movie the respect it should be given," said Ram Mirchandani, CEO, Eros International, the distributors. The film narrates the story of a girl who challenges discrimination against women.
Days around festivals and national holidays also seem to be a beneficial period - looking at the remaining Bollywood calendar for 2011 as well as that of early 2012.
Prakash Jha's much-awaited "Aarakshan", on caste-based reservation in Indian society, is set to release Aug 12 - a day before Rakshabandhan, and three days before Independence Day. Even though it is not a national holiday, it brings on the festive mood.
"One has to do deep thinking for tapping the film business," said Jha.
"I had decided on Aug 12 as the release date of 'Aarakshan' even before I started shooting it. By releasing it that day, we are getting Rakhi, Independence Day (Aug 15) and a week or so later, Janmashtami (Aug 22) too.
"With so many holidays and festivals, we hope to get a lot of footfall in cinema halls," said Jha.
He also explained how the theme of the movie is in sync with Independence Day - as it "deals with an issue that society needs independence from".
The Friday before Janmashtmi has five movies lined up so far. These include "Chatur Singh Two Star", "Mr. Bhatti On Chutti", "Not A Love Story", "Sahi Dhandhe Galat Bande" and "Yeh Dooriyan".
Later in the year, during Christmas and New Year time, Shah Rukh's "Don - The Chase Continues" and Abbas-Mustan's "Players" are set for a Dec 23 release.
The next year will have Karan Johar's remake of "Agneepath", featuring Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra, hitting the screens on Lohri Jan 13, while Reema Kagti's untitled project, starring Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Kareena Kapoor, is scheduled for release Jan 26, Republic Day.
So now you know how and where to spend your time and money during the festivals and holidays.