Kolkata: Notwithstanding rave reviews from critics and positive feedback from those who watched it in the theatre, the film ’83’ hasn’t done that well at the box office, with its release on Christmas eve clashing with the outbreak of the nationwide third Covid19 wave.
And director Kabir Khan has no doubt that his film – capturing the the fascinating story of the Kapil Dev-led Indian cricket team’s title triumph in the World Cup 38 years back – is “one of my finest”, but also an “extreme victim” of the latest Covid wave.
Kabir, who was a 15-year-old boy when India lifted their maiden Cricket World Cup title, said, “I’m very confident if ever there is a talk on my filmography there would be the most talk on ’83. This is one of the films that will define me as a director. It is one of my finest films if not the finest that I have made”.
The director and his team wanted to release the Ranveer Singh starter on the big screen and for that, they held it back for two years as the pandemic surged.
“We held back the film for two years so that when it is released, people can at least go to the theatre to experience it. Then when we released the film, came the third wave. The surge began the day before our release. On the day of release, 6,000 people were affected. Within 10 days that number surpassed one lakh.
“As a result, some states imposed night curfews on the first day. The night shows got cancelled. On the fourth day, all the shows were suspended in Delhi and then Haryana as well”, lamented Khan during a telephonic interview with UNI.
Besides the fear of the disease, restrictions have been imposed in most areas throughout the country. The theatres can now accommodate only 50 percent of their audience capacity, or even less. In some areas, there are two shows throughout the day, but no shows in the evening.
Film trade analysts have tagged ‘83’ as “not up to the mark”. But Kabir disagreed.
“Trade analysts in our country are posing as if there is no such thing as Covid. There is no mention of Covid anywhere when they are reporting on ’83’. They are just declaring that the collection on a particular day did not go well.
“But they don’t say for once that the collection was not good because the theatres were closed in three states, or that the theatres had to be run with 50 percent audience in some places, or some shows were cancelled. Or because a maximum of 140,000 people have been infected on this or that
Kabir, maker of gems like ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, and ‘Newyork’, is also unhappy at the repeated parallelism drawn between ‘83’ and the Telugu movie ‘Pushpa: The Rise’ in terms of commerce.
‘Pushpa: The Rise’ – simultaneously dubbed in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada – was released a week before ‘83’ and grossed over Rs 159 crore worldwide in its opening weekend, when there were no Covid-induced restrictions anywhere.
Without mentioning “Pushpa…”, Kabir said: “I would like to ask these analysts whether the films you are comparing ‘83’ with, got stuck in such a situation. When you are comparing one film with another, you should only compare those on a level playing field”.
“Analysts are not comprehending the totality of the scenario. They are just figuring the numbers and deducing that there is no such thing as Covid in the world”.
Kabir dubbed the analysts as either “agenda-driven” or “film illiterate”.
“After we released the film, Omicron exploded. After that, no film came. There must be a justification why the release of one film after another is being halted.
“It feels really bad when someone saYS that everything is fine, just that the collection of ’83’ is not right. It’s such an obvious case that ’83’ is the extreme victim of the third wave of Covid”.
‘83’ has so far grossed over Rs 180 crore worldwide.
Kabir exuded confidence that a lot of people will watch the film later on television and the Over The Top (OTT) platform.
“We want to screen the film in the theatres so that people can watch it after everything becomes normal. And then, people will watch it on television and OTT”.
Called the ‘widest Indian film’, ’83’ already has been released in 82 countries around the world. No other Indian film ever got released in so many countries simultaneously
However, adding to Kabir’s woes, a pirated copy of the film got leaked on the internet.
“Some people were scared of coming to the theatre (given the Covid situation). When the copy was leaked on the internet, they thought it was okay to watch the pirated copy. It’s happening all over the world. The same has happened with my film”.
Asked what he found most challenging while making the film, Kabir said, “To make people experience the same feeling I felt 38 years ago! I had to recreate that joy, that euphoria of people all over India. That was an enormous challenge and I am happy that I have managed to achieve that”.