As Tamil Nadu imposed new restrictions like night curfews and full lockdown on Sunday, among others, to tackle the rising number of Covid-19 cases, theatre owners of the state are pinning their hopes on the release of the Ajith Kumar-starrer, Valimai, in theatres.
Valimai, which marks the actor’s return to the screens, three years after Nerkonda Paarvai (2019), has been the most awaited film in Ajith’s career. Directed by H Vinoth and produced by Boney Kapoor, the film is set to hit the theatres on January 13, for the occasion of Pongal.
Although the film will be released in Hindi and Telugu as well, its primary audiences are in Tamil Nadu, where theatres are functioning at a 50% capacity, owing to the pandemic. The state’s theatres will also not function on Sundays and won’t be screening night shows, so as to adhere to the lockdown restrictions, until January 10.
While films like RRR and Radhe Shyam have postponed their releases, as of Thursday morning, Valimai is the only big budget film that has maintained its scheduled release date. As the makers remain tight-lipped about Valimai’s release getting postponed, theatre owners are still optimistic.
On Wednesday, Tirupur M Subramaniam, the President of Tamil Nadu Theatres and Multiplexes Owners Association, told Silverscreen India, “The producer has maintained the same release date, so far, but as of now, there has been no communication regarding a change in date. As per the lockdown rules, only this Sunday (January 9) a full lockdown is in place. Since the film is releasing on January 13, there might be changes.”
Echoing his thoughts, Venkatesh, the owner of Woodlands Cinemas, Chennai, also said that the government order is effective until January 10. Speaking to us on Thursday, he said, “After 10th, we don’t know what will happen. But we are optimistic about the situation. It is also to be noted that this being a Pongal week, we get to screen an extra show for the festive season, which will be five shows in total. So, when there is no night show, we can compensate by screening a morning show,” he pointed out.
Venkatesh added that theatres running four or five shows, even at 50% occupancy, might help the film in getting a good opening at the box office. Speaking about the Vijay-starrer Master that released in theatres for Pongal 2021, at a 50% occupancy, Venkatesh said “When Master released, the cases in Tamil Nadu were only 650, but now the the infection is spreading like wildfire. We need to take all these matters into consideration, given the business economy is also bad.”
Santhosh, owner of the single-screen Vasu Theatre in Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, is currently running Pushpa, but he said that they are awaiting confirmation from the producer’s end, about Valimai. “From today, we have no night show schedule. There have been mixed responses regarding Valimai and no official communication from the makers have come,” he added. Santhosh, also mentioned that given there will be no screenings at night, they will accommodate for an early morning show.
With theatre owners across the state yet to receive official reconfirmation regarding the film’s release, all of them hope to reap the benefits of the festive season, with the arrival of the star-studded Valimai.