Producer Anand Pandit on shutdowns: We need to respect the government’s decision
The producer talks Chehre and riding out the second wave
If things had gone to plan, Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan would have had a release each in early April. Instead, the coronavirus, which had infected both father and son last year, reared its ugly head again. While Abhishek’s The Big Bull was released to mixed reviews on Disney+ Hotstar, the Amitabh and Emraan Hashmi-starrer Chehre was held off from theatrical release. It was a tough call for producer Anand Pandit, who backed both films, since the shutdowns were not implemented then (Maharashtra shuttered cinemas on April 4).
“We had to release Chehre on April 9 but the sudden rise in Covid cases left us in a serious condition,” Anand recalls thinking in late March. He decided to hold back the film till the situation returns to normal. “In the end, the safety of the audience is much important and this bad phase of the pandemic should be handled very carefully and intelligently.”
A fictional retelling of the Harshad Mehta story, The Big Bull was named ‘the biggest opening of the year’ by Disney+ Hotstar. Though hardly ideal, the film’s online reception has come as a relief to the makers. “It’s an amazing feeling when an entire team's work is appreciated,” Anand shares. “I would like to give full credit to Abhishek Bachchan and our director Kookie Gulati.”
Anand is among the several producers impacted by the Covid resurge. Earlier, Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi and YRF’s Bunty Aur Babli 2 were pushed from their April release dates. In Maharashtra, film bodies such as the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) have been urging the government to relax the shooting curbs. Anand’s own film, the Ajay Devgn and Sidharth Malhotra-starrer Thank God, is hanging in the balance.
“We need to understand the seriousness of the pandemic and follow the rules. Our government is doing the best it can and we need to respect their decisions.”
He sounds sceptical about a potential OTT release for Chehre if things worsen. “So far our decision is to release Chehre in theatres. I hope we will get over this bad phase pretty soon.”