The film industry is staring at a Rs 1,300 crore loss and a revision of star values. Will this demolish star domination?
The Coronavirus is a great leveller. The once soaring jet-setters around the globe are now just like the rest of us, confined to the walls of their own homes. Who would imagine Hollywood star Tom Hanks getting it of all people while scouting for locale of his new film? Back home in Bollywood, reality has hit hard too as stars take to micro-blogging sites, using their home diaries and even plebeian activities to stay relevant. With all big ticket releases stalled and shooting schedules cancelled because of the nationwide lockdown, our film industry is looking at a projected loss of Rs 1,300 crore. What’s more, the sudden career break is not doing anything good to stars whose market value is decided by hits and misses. Elaborate film sets now lie empty and Mumbai’s mega tourist attraction, Film City, has cancelled all tours indefinitely. Big-budget ventures like Akshay Kumar’s Suryavanshi, Kabir Khan’s 83, starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, and Salman Khan’s Radhe have been postponed. And with festival celebrations forever changing in a post-COVID-19 India, there is not much cheer around a big Eid or Diwali release. But Bollywood is not all about stars. There are character artistes, technicians, spot boys and logistics staff, who are all hired on a temporary basis, have no long-term security cover and are suddenly jobless. The distributors and cinema hall owners have all flatlined in their ventures. By rolling out 1,500 films a year, the Indian film industry is one of the country’s biggest generators of employment. As for debutantes, who have invested their all in a film career, this lull will affect their ability to get work as producers will prioritise pending projects first.
This time of crisis has also brought out the philanthropic side of numerous celebrities. Of course, the big fish in the industry are trying to do their bit for COVID-19 management. Akshay Kumar has donated a whopping Rs 25 crore to the PM Relief Fund. Kartik Aaryan has donated Rs 1 crore to the PM Cares Fund. Superstar Rajnikanth has donated Rs 50 lakh to the Film Employees Federation of South India to help workers who are losing their jobs due to the shutdown. Varun Dhawan has pledged Rs 30 lakh contribution to the PM Cares fund and Rs 25 lakh to the Maharashtra’s CM Fund. One would have expected Bollywood’s royal clans to do some more but at the moment they haven’t. Perhaps, this may serve as a reality check to their s/hero worshipping fans. Going forward, maybe brands need to think their hefty endorsement fee for some so-called stars. Only those who helped and contributed in their own way will come out with a stronger, more loyal fan following than those who did not.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)