The Kerala film industry has decided to exclusively screen superstar Mohanlal starrer, Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, for a period of three weeks in theatres in Kerala from August 12 to coincide with the Onam festival.
This decision to first screen Mohanlal’s film directed by Priyadarshan in 600 theatres for three weeks was made after an agreement was clinched between the Film Exhibitors’ United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK) and the Kerala Film Producers’ Association (KFPA), said The Hindu. Kerala has around 680 screens in the state.
Well-known director and writer, B Unnikrishnan, told The Federal that the Malayalam film industry had been badly impacted by the first and second wave of the pandemic and has suffered losses that are estimated to be nearly ₹600 crores to date.
“So, we all got together and made the decision to screen our greatest superstar, Mohanlal’s film in cinema theatres during Onam in August to bring back the audience,” said Unnikrishnan. Moreover, Mohanlal’s film Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, made with a budget of ₹100 crore, had to be released in theatres since it had been delayed for over a year. The film which was bankrolled by Aashirwad Cinemas was scheduled to release in March last year.
Further, Unnikrishnan, who is the General Secretary, FEFKA, added that the Kerala film industry expects 50 per cent occupancy in theatres by July. The government too would relax restrictions in theatres once the positivity rate dropped, he said with a lot of optimism.
The Kerala film industry, which used to generate a revenue of ₹400 crores making nearly 150 films a year, is reportedly trying to revive its fortunes by first releasing Mohanlal’s mega budget film.
However, the Fahad Faasil film, Malik, made with a budget of ₹25 crores will skip theatres and release on OTT. The producer could not hold out any longer and decided to opt for an OTT release, said Unnikrishnan. “My film with Mohanlal, Arattu will be released in October. I have booked a theatrical slot then. It is an out-and-out masala entertainer, we need these kind of films too since we are living in black and bleak times,” he added.
Other films that are waiting to be released are Rajeev Ravi’s Thuramukham, Srinath Rajendran’s Kurup, Shane Nigam’s Ullasam and Veyil. The shooting of 11 films were disrupted midway when the pandemic first broke last year and are yet to revive.
Meanwhile, K Vijayakumar president of FEUOK told The Hindu that they hoped theatres would turn active once again with the release of big-budget Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simhan.