Big-ticket screen announcements made during the lockdown
He was the first to get off the blocks after the lockdown, jetting off with his cast and crew to the UK where they have already wrapped up a feature film, Bell Bottom, in a start-to-finish schedule. Laxmmi Bomb, the biggest movie release on a digital platform in recent times, belongs to him. Come Diwali, his Sooryavanshi is being looked at as the messiah of the movie theatres, a potential blockbuster to pull them out of the Covid-19-induced economic rut.
So does it come as a surprise that Akshay Kumar was the only big Bolly star to announce a film in the middle of the lockdown? On Rakhi this August, the Khiladi of the box office unveiled the first-look poster of and announced Raksha Bandhan, a film that celebrates “the most special bond in the world” and which he’s dedicated to his sister Alka. “It’s the quickest I’ve signed a film in my career,” said Akshay about the Aanand L. Rai film. The two are, incidentally, also collaborating on Atrangi Re, co-starring Dhanush and Sara Ali Khan.
They had us at that quirky poster. Katrina Kaif, Ishaan Khatter and Siddhant Chaturvedi star in the smartly titled Phone Bhoot, a horror comedy. Announced in July, Phone Bhoot will be directed by Gurmeet Singh and produced by Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment. The poster that shows the film’s three leads goofing around dressed in sharp suits, was reportedly ready a few months ago but couldn’t be released because of the pandemic. If the BTS moments from the poster shoot — released along with the first look — are anything to go by, this is a jugalbandi we can’t wait to watch on screen!
Prabhas-Deepika Untitled Film
One of the biggest announcements in the lockdown — along with Adipurush, Prabhas’s film with Tanhaji maker Om Raut and co-starring Saif Ali Khan— came in the form of this untitled biggie, for now being referred to as ‘Prabhas 21’, that will see the Bahubali man team up with Deepika Padukone. Mahanati maker Nag Ashwin directs the trilingual biggie, said to be a sci-fi thriller. “It is something no mainstream lead has done before and will be quite a surprise for everyone,” is what the director had to say about Deepika’s part in the film that’s slated for a 2022 release.
Malcolm & Marie
Now this is more than a mere announcement. Actors John David Washington and Zendaya came together to make a film in the middle of the lockdown. Directed by Sam Levinson, Malcolm & Marie was filmed in June-July in an “environmentally-conscious” house in Carmel in California. It’s said to be on the same lines of the deeply evocative Marriage Story and will focus on a couple navigating through a world changed by the pandemic.
The Gray Man
Whispers that it added 10 million subscribers during the lockdown translated into Netflix allocating its biggest budget ever to The Gray Man. And why not? It boasts some of the biggest names in the business — Avengers men Joe and Anthony Russo direct Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans. Based on the eponymous 2009 Mark Greaney novel that introduced the ‘Gray Man,’ a freelance assassin and former CIA operative named Court Gentry, the intention with this big-budget film, according to sources, is to create a new franchise on the scale of a Bond film. Announced in July, The Gray Man is planning to go on the floors in Los Angeles in January 2021.
The Jungle Prince of Delhi
Close on the heels of adapting A Suitable Boy into a six-part series, Mira Nair has signed up to direct The Jungle Prince of Delhi, based on the the New York Times story and podcast published in November 2019, as a web series for Amazon Prime Video. The intriguing story, about a family of three living in a derelict 14-century hunting lodge in Delhi since the 1970s and claiming to be Awadh royalty, was chronicled by Ellen Barry of The New York Times last year and has since then captured the imagination of the world. The series will be produced by the same team that gave us Chernobyl.