The release of SS Rajamouli’s period drama RRR has been pushed after a record rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, partly due to the new and highly infectious Omicron strain. The Baahubali director’s new film was scheduled for January 7, and was meant to be released in Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada.

In a tweet, the film’s makers said, “Keeping the best interests of all the involved parties in mind, we are forced to postpone our film.” No new date has been announced yet.

Several states have imposed new restrictions, including night-time curfews, in light of the increased caseload. For instance, Delhi has ordered cinemas that were operating at 100% capacity to be shut. Other states, including Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka, have permitted cinemas to operate at 50% capacity.

Rajamouli’s highly awaited and heavily publicised movie stars Telugu stars Jr NTR and Ram Charan as revolutionaries fighting the British and the Nizam of Hyderabad. With Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn and Samuthirakani in the cast, RRR was aiming to be a pan-Indian release.

As recently as December 29, Bollywood trade analyst Taran Adarsh put out a tweet declaring that the movie was “very much” going to be out on January 7.

A related hurdle for RRR is the continued impact of an Andhra Pradesh government order in April 2020 capping the prices of tickets at Rs 250 for multiplexes and Rs 100 for single screen cinemas. Several cinemas in Andhra Pradesh have shut down, protesting that the government’s interference harms their bottomlines and makes it difficult for them to recover money lost to lockdowns and interrupted business in the previous year.

The postponement is likely to impact the release calendar. Several Telugu producers had postponed their releases to accommodate RRR.

Among the scheduled Hindi releases later in January are Radhe Shyam, starring Prabhas and Pooja Hedge, and the historical Prithviraj, starring Akshay Kumar and Manushi Chhillar. The Hindi movie Jersey, starring Shahid Kapoor and Mrunal Thakur and scheduled for December 31, had announced on December 28 itself that the release was being pushed.

Raamam Raaghavam, RRR (2022).