On Friday, Amazon Prime announced the premiere of seven feature films directly on the Over-The-Top (OTT) platform skipping theatrical release. Set for release in May, June, and July were Vidya Balan starrer Shakuntala Devi, Jayasurya starrer Sufiyum Sujathayum, Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana starrer Gulabo Sitabo, Danish Sait starrer French Biryani, Ragini Chandran starrer Law, Jyothika starrer Ponmagal Vandhal, and Keerthy Suresh starrer Penguin.
After news broke out, Malayalam theatres associations and film chambers have expressed their displeasure with the direct release of Sufiyum Sujathayum, reportedly the first Malayalam film to hit the streaming service directly without accommodating a theatrical window.
The president of the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK), Liberty Basheer told Malayalam news platform The Cue that the decision to premiere Sufiyum Sujathayum on a digital platform is unacceptable. “When an industry as a whole is going through a crisis, the action of one or two creating a parallel market in their own interests through digital releasing is not right,” said Basheer.
He also added that the organisation will ban the release of films associated with the actor and the production house of Sufiyum Sujathayum, Vijay Babu’s Friday Film House, hereafter. Sufiyum Sujathayum is the fifth movie collaboration between Jayasurya and Vijay Babu after Philips And The Monkey Pen, Aadu Oru Bheekarajeeviyaanu 1 and 2, and Thrissur Pooram. The duo is also associating for the untitled biopic of legendary actor Sathyan and the third installment to the Aadu franchise which will reportedly be shot in 3D.
A report on The Hindu read that Vijay Babu has defended his choice of opting for a digital release by stating ‘survival’ as a reason. “We producers invest our hard-earned money. But now, we don’t know when and how a film is going to reach theatres. Even after cinemas open, we will be in the queue since so many films are awaiting release,” Vijay Babu said.
He added, “We also don’t know about the protocol that will be in place once theatres are opened. Social distancing and hygiene will be a priority and I am assuming that in such a situation big movies might be given a longer run to recover their production costs.”
He also said that many members of the Kerala Film Producers’ Association are supportive of his decision.
A similar scenario unfolded in Kollywood with Jyotika starrer Ponmagal Vandhal, where Tamil Nadu Theatre and Multiplex Owners Association announced that they will not release any film involving actor Suriya or his home production banner 2D Entertainment, the producer of Ponmagal Vandhal, hereafter. The decision came in light of the film hitting the OTT platform directly without going through theatres. Despite the backlash, the film is set to stream on Amazon Prime Video on May 29, 2020.
Read the entire sequence of events here: Jyotika Starrer ‘Ponmagal Vandhal’ To Premiere On Amazon Prime On May 29
Delay in justice is injustice ⚖️#PonmagalVandhal releasing 29th May! #PonmagalVandhalOnPrime #WorldPremiereOnPrime@Suriya_offl #Jyotika @fredrickjj @rparthiepan @rajsekarpandian #Thiyagarajan #Pandiarajan #PratapPothen @2D_ENTPVTLTD @SakthiFilmFctry @SonyMusicSouth pic.twitter.com/AXGuTFRpNL
— amazon prime video IN (@PrimeVideoIN) May 15, 2020
Sufiyum Sujathayum, starring Jayasurya and Aditi Rao Hydari in the lead roles is a romantic thriller directed by Karie fame Naranipuzha Shanavas. Bankrolled by Vijay Babu’s Friday Film House, the film’s story revolves around a married couple Sujatha (Aditi) and Rajeev (Jayasurya). Set in two timelines, the story will be narrated through songs.
The cast of Sufiyum Sujathayum includes Siddique, Hareesh Kanaran, Vijay Babu, Mamukkoya, Manikandan Pattambi, Kalaranjini, and Navas Vallikkunnu. Anu Moothedath is the cinematographer, Deepu Joseph is the editor, Mohammed Bava has helmed art, and M Jayachandran has composed music.
The release date of the film on the platform is yet to be announced.