Padman to head for a massive solo release, exhibitors welcome decision

By Manishaa R

With Akshay Kumar’s mass-following and the socially relevant subject of Padman, it is only imperative to have a huge release, say exhibitors

With Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary now being deferred to February 16, Padman is said to be heading for a massive solo release across India in a good number of screens. The decision has been welcomed by exhibitors some of whom were in a dilemma about allocating screens to Padman and Aiyaary in the face of rising demand for Padmaavat, which is growing on the audiences in its second week.

Well-known distributor and exhibitor Akshaye Rathi, who has screens across Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, feels that it advantage Padman, which deserves a good number of screens in keeping with Akshay Kumar’s mass-following and the subject, “Padman is a subject that calls for serious endorsement not just in the Indian markets but over the world. Also Akshay Kumar shares a great connect with the masses. His films certainly deserve a wide release. When you are dabbling with a subject that is socially relevant, it is only imperative for it to have a huge release,” Rathi says.

According to distributor-exhibitor Rajesh Thadani the decision to postpone Aiyaary by a week, will not work just for Padman but for Aiyaary too, “The clash between the two films would have affected both due to the limited number of screens. Also Padmaavat is performing very well so the decision is good for everyone concerned. It will now be interesting to watch how the screens are divided between Padmaavat and Padman,” Thadani says.

Aiyaary should not be underestimated says exhibitor Akshaye Rathi

Would Aiyaary have changed the equation for Padman, apart from the number of screens? According to Rathi, the potential of Aiyaary cannot be overlooked for the simple reason that it has the formidable name of Neeraj Pandey as director, “Neeraj Pandey is among the few directors who has time and again succeeded in making entertaining and engaging films.  Knowing that he is the man behind Aiyaary, it would be incorrect to underestimate the possibility of the film,” Rathi avers. On the other hand, Rathi feels that Akshay Kumar’s films invariably make a mark at the box-office irrespective of the competition, “Akshay Kumar is among the few stars in the industry who has consistently delivered box-office success. Almost every film he does is made on a moderate budget and assures a definite lifetime business of a minimum Rs 100 cr.  It doesn’t matter whether his films have a solo release,” Rathi states.

“We want Padman to reach to the maximum number of audiences,” says producer Prernaa Arora

Meanwhile the pre-release curiosity for Padman has reached a new high with celebrities from Aamir Khan to Varun Dhawan, Anushka Shetty, Alia Bhatt and others, taking on the #Padmanchallenge and endorsing the message of the film. According to producer Prernaa Arora, there is a positive buzz surrounding the release of the film not just in India but the international market too, “It is now a global film after it was spoken about in Oxford Union, the world’s most prestigious debating society. We want it to reach the maximum number of audiences. Also it is the boldest film ever and kudos to Akshay sir for that. He has never shied away from taking up films with socially relevant issues, be it Toilet Ek Prem Katha earlier or Padman now. He is the true hero of the masses,” she says.

As of now Sony Pictures is said to be lining up a huge release for Padman in the range of 2800-3000 screens, “Sony pictures is an international studio that has solid clout in the Indian and international market. It will go the extra mile to ensure that the film gets an extraordinary release,” Rathi says.


With #Padmaavat heading for a solo release, exhibitors screening film demand security cover for theatres

Exhibitors who had earlier opted to screen Padman over Padmaavat considering it a safe bet, are now looking at screening Padmaavat but under strict security cover

By Manishaa R

Did Sanjay Leela Bhansali make a smart move by requesting Akshay Kumar to defer the release of Padman? According to sections in the trade, Bhansali decided that only a solo release for Padmaavat would ensure that the magnum opus would get its due at the box-office, especially since a majority of exhibitors had decided to opt for Padman, due to the increasing threats by the Karni Sena.  While the Supreme Court judgment had come as a shot in the arm for the Padmaavat makers, the bigger roadblock was anxious exhibitors who were skeptical about screening the film in the wake of latest incidents of a ticket counter being burnt in Faridabad and a cinema hall being vandalized in Bihar, besides threats to burn down theatres in Chhattisgarh. According to veteran Delhi exhibitor, Joginder Kumar Mahajan who owns three single-screen theatres in Delhi, a majority of single screen owners in Delhi had made up their mind about allotting screens to Akshay Kumar’s Padman, since none of them wanted to risk the security of their theatres, “Which exhibitor would like to take the risk of theatres being attacked and broken down? All of us considered Padman as a safe and viable box-office bet. There were only a couple of single screens who had chosen to play Padmaavat but they were undecided too due to the deteriorating law and order,” Mahajan revealed, adding that exhibitors were now in a difficult predicament with the release of Padman being postponed.

“The authorities made it clear that the police would be busy with security arrangements for Republic Day and it would be impossible to arrange security in cinemas”- Joginder Mahajan, Delhi Exhibitor

According to him, with the release of Padman being deferred, Padmaavat would be the only other option and the onus would now be on exhibitors to look into security arrangements themselves. More so because the Delhi administration bluntly refused to provide security cover for theatres due to Republic Day celebrations, “The authorities made it clear that the police would be busy with security arrangements for Republic Day and it would be impossible to arrange security in cinemas.” According to him, the producers Viacom should have decided to release the film on a day other than Republic Day, “They are aware that there is a security threat to theatres in releasing the film and the administration cannot provide increased security on that day,” he said

Meanwhile the other exhibitors are firmly planning to ask the Government to provide security measures. Bihar exhibitor, Vishek Chauhan, who controls a chain of eight theatres single screen theatres, said that it was imperative for the administration to provide security to theatres for the release of the film, “I learnt about the incident of a theatre being vandalized in Muzaffarpur. I believe the theatre was exhibiting the old poster of Padmavati. I also noticed that there is a lot of skepticism among exhibitors in Bihar. Some cinema owners are being persuaded at a local level not to release the film and morally being blackmailed too. Also if miscreants start breaking glass panes and tearing down seats in any cinema hall, it would result a threat to the security of the patrons. We will have to talk to our respective Zilla Parishads and release the film subject to their providing security cover,” Chauhan said.

“All these protests will stop once the film releases and word of mouth spreads that it is the best tribute to Rani Padmavati” – Bihar exhibitor Vishek Chauhan

However he added that the threats and protests would die down once Padmaavat settled in the theatres, “All these protests will stop once the film releases and word of mouth spreads that it is the best tribute to Rani Padmavati,” he said adding that the protesters had no justification anymore to continue with their anti-Padmavati tirade, “I am a Rajput myself who believes in respecting culture and tradition but I fail to understand what the protests are all about. First they said that Bhansali was distorting history. Now Bhansali has claimed it is fiction and not history, stating that the film is based on Padmavat- the poem and not Padmavati. When the makers come out with a front page ad in national news clarifying that this is a work of fiction, based on imagination and clearly claim that the movie is not part of history, what are the protests about?” he asked.

Meanwhile the COEAI (Cinematograph Owners and Exhibitors Association of India) which has member exhibitors from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka, has decided to write to the Government asking for security measures at all theatres where Padmaavat will be screened, “We are planning to write to the Home Ministry, Central and State Governments, that we need protection for those cinemas which choose to screen the film. Also the big question is whether the Government or the producers will compensate if the cinemas are damaged. More than anything else, the exhibitors are always worried about the safety of their patrons,” Nitin Datar, ex-President of COEAI revealed.

“We are planning to write to the Home Ministry, Central and State Governments, that we need protection for those cinemas which choose to screen the film” – Nitin Datar, Ex-President COEAI

As of now the battle lines are clearly drawn for the January 25th release of Padmaavat, until the Karni Sena members catch the film and conclude that their protests were all futile and the film only glorifies the valour of the Rajputs.