Over four months after Covid-19 led to the closure of cinemas, the future of theatre owners is as dark as the properties they run. As per the india today Mood of the Nation poll, more than half the respondents, 53 per cent, said they wouldn’t visit theatres even after they reopen. That OTT platforms have fulfilled the needs of film enthusiasts has only added to the woes of theatre owners. Not to mention the many new titles premiering on OTT platforms in the past few months. The year 2020 has been a washout at the box office with only Ajay Devgn-starrer Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior earning Rs 269 crore. So, when will we see a Rs 100 crore film next?
One actor who can be trusted to deliver is Akshay Kumar, who topped the MOTN poll for the first time after tying with Salman Khan for the top spot in the last edition in January. Kumar’s strong showing in six months can be attributed to the fact that his name is untainted from the unfolding Sushant Singh Rajput saga, and that he continues to be the busiest actor of the lot. He’ll be the first star to return to work, shooting for a film in the UK from August. As makers of Kumar’s film Sooryavanshi wait for theatres to reopen, he will have a digital release, Laxmmi Bomb, in the coming months. Not too far behind Kumar was the septuagenarian Amitabh Bachchan who, despite working from home, contracted Covid.
The most notable feature of the poll, though, was how the popularity of the Khans has plummeted. For a change, it was Shah Rukh who was ahead of Salman and Aamir, with the respondents recognising the many charitable endeavours of his Meer Foundation during the lockdown. Aamir has not had a release since Thugs of Hindostan in October 2018 and SRK since Zero in December 2018. Salman’s latest instalment of Dabangg, too, failed to win over his fans. Devgn, Hrithik Roshan, who featured in 2019’s biggest hit War, and 35-year-old Ranveer Singh, the youngest actor in the crop of top 10, tied for the sixth spot.
Among the actresses, Deepika Padukone was in pole position after she made headlines for showing solidarity with students of Jawaharlal Nehru University during the promotional rounds of her maiden production Chhapaak in which she played an acid attack survivor. She is also the only one from the industry to have spoken about mental health awareness after news of Rajput’s battle with depression broke. Anushka Sharma, who is in news more for producing (Paatal Lok, Bulbbul) and her social media activity, dropped to No. 5, with Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Katrina Kaif and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan faring better.
Kangana Ranaut, meanwhile, had her best showing so far given her committed act in providing video commentary from Manali on a series of issues with the prime focus being adding fuel to the fiery Rajput tragedy. Tied with Alia Bhatt, Ranaut perhaps will take solace in the fact that, like her, the top five heroines in the MOTN poll are all outsiders.