COVID-19 kicks RRR and Radhe Shyam out of Sankranthi race, small films try to cash in

Telugu audiences can look forward to small-budget movies such as ‘Rowdy Boys’, ‘Super Machi’ and ‘Hero’ that will hit the big screens during the Sankranthi weekend.
Naga Chaitanya and Nagarjuna in Bangarraju
Naga Chaitanya and Nagarjuna in Bangarraju
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In the Telugu states, Sankranthi is synonymous with blockbuster movie releases. However, like last year, this year too the audiences have to hold back their excitement, as many of the big budget movies have announced last-minute postponement and been shelved indefinitely. All thanks to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and fears of a third wave of COVID-19.

While pan-India projects such as SS Rajamouli’s RRR and Radha Krishna Kumar’s Radhe Shyam officially announced that they are being postponed, Nagarjuna and Naga Chaitanya’s Bangarraju has locked the release date of January 14 for the Sankranthi season. Apart from this, Rana Daggubati and Regina Cassandra’s 1945 hit the theatres on January 7 and has received a lukewarm response so far.

The earlier announced projects – Mahesh Babu’s Sarkaaru Vaari Paata and Pawan Kalyan and Rana Daggubati starrer Bheemla Nayak – had voluntarily opted out of the Sankranthi race to make way for RRR and Radhe Shyam.

However, some smaller Tollywood movies are getting ready to capture the fervour of the festive season and announced their release dates. Movies such as Rowdy Boys, Super Machi and others have announced that they are hitting the big screens on January 14. While Rowdy Boys is the debut of Asish, producer Dil Raju's nephew, and will co-star Anupama Parameshwaran, Super Machi has Chiranjeevi’s son-in-law Kalyaan Dhev and Rhea Chakraborty in the lead roles. Another much-awaited movie Hero, which will introduce Mahesh Babu’s nephew Ashok Galla, is releasing on January 15. All the movie teams have begun their promotions, hoping to cash in on the festival spirit.

Meanwhile, it’s the already released hit movies Akhanda and Shyam Singha Roy that are catering to the audiences at the beginning of this festival season. With Pushpa streaming on Amazon Prime Video from January 7, the other two movies have sustained the theatre market.

Though theatre owners are disappointed at the postponement of the releases, they say they are thankful that at least December had releases with big heroes that are still running.

“As of now, Akhanda and Shyam Singha Roy are running in theatres successfully and we’re seeing good footfall for these movies now in the festive season,” says Balgovind, owner of Sudharshan theatre in Hyderabad.

“When we thought the pandemic was over and theatres are going to return to their past glory, then came the Omicron variant and pushed the release dates of major movies. We hope this is the final stage in this COVID-19 pandemic; we’re pinning our hopes on the summer season to get back to normalcy,” Balgovind adds.

Meanwhile, theatre managements are also upset and angry that it’s the theatres and their staff members who are facing the brunt of the postponement. “Already many theatres are working with half their staff as there are no profits. In this background, if producers continuously postpone their release dates with the intention to cover wider markets, we are the ones impacted,” adds Vijaya Bhaskar, who works in a multiplex in Kurnool.

But for fans, the few new movies releasing for Sankranthi is enough cause for excitement and something to look forward to on the festival weekend.

Watch Hero trailer here :

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