The Vidya Balan-led biopic on mathematical whiz Shakuntala Devi will released on Amazon Prime Video rather than through cinemas – the second big-name Bollywood production to do so after Gulabo Sitabo. The streaming date has not yet been announced.
Directed by Anu Menon, the Hindi-language biopic has been produced by Sony Pictures Networks Productions and Abundantia Entertainment. The cast includes Sanya Malhotra as Shakuntala Devi’s daughter, Amit Sadh and Jisshu Sengupta.
“Get set for a perfect class this summer as Vidya Balan dons the hat of math whiz Shakuntala Devi to teach the world the universal language of mathematics,” a press release stated. Shakuntala Devi will be available in 200 countries and territories.
The announcement follows the news on Thursday that Shoojit Sircar’s Gulabo Sitabo, starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Amitabh Bachchan, will be streamed on Amazon Prime Video on June 12. With cinemas shut across the country and most of the rest of the world because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and no sign of the resumption of operations any time soon, filmmakers are bypassing theatrical distribution and opting for streaming.
Amazon Prime Video will also premiere the Tamil-language Ponmagal Vandhal, starring Jyothika, and the Keerthy Suresh-headlined Penguin, the Malayalam film Sufiyum Sujatayum and the Kannada productions Law and French Biryani.
The release dates for all but two titles are as follows: Ponmagal Vandhal on May 29, Gulabo Sitabo on June 12, Penguin on June 19, Law on June 26 and French Biryani on July 24.
“Indian audiences have been eagerly awaiting the release of these 7 highly anticipated films and we are delighted that Amazon Prime Video will now be premiering these movies for our customers – who can enjoy watching these from the safety & comfort of their homes and on a screen of their choice,” Gaurav Gandhi, Director and Country General Manager for Amazon Prime Video India, said in a press statement.
At least one multiplex chain, Inox Leisure, has heavily criticised the decision to ignore conventional distribution. In a statement on Thursday, Inox expressed “extreme displeasure and disappointment” that Gulabo Sitabo had taken the streaming route.
“Such acts, though isolated, vitiate the atmosphere of mutual partnership and paint these content producers as fair-weather friends rather than all-weather life-long partners,” said the company, which operates over 600 screens in India. Threatening “retributive measures”, Inox urged “all content creators not to skip the theatrical run and stay with the age old and established windowing pattern, which is in the best interests of all stakeholders in the value chain”.