- Covid-19 dealt the biggest blow to the film industry
- Less than half of the running cinemas were open during general holidays though they were allowed to open complying with health hygiene rules
- Bad marketing system is also to be blamed
- Some movies released on OTT well received by audiences
- People are subscribing and watching films on OTT
Cinemas in Bangladesh were open for only 5.5 months between last year's public holiday and this year's lockdown. During this time, 14 films – both low and high-budget ones – have been released. Even some films, which were made on the grant were also released. Unfortunately, the money invested in these films did not return.
Most of the directors think that the lack of cinemas is the main reason for this. About 150 cinemas were opened before last year's general holiday. However, when the cinemas were allowed to open, less than half of the running cinemas were opened, complying with social distancing and health hygiene rules.
Yet, there were very few audiences, which was the same for the new films too.
On 16 October last year, the government allowed the cinemas to open and Shahoshi Hero Alam starring and produced by popular actor Hero Alam was released on the same day. The film was released in several cinemas but failed to impress the audience.
So, to keep the cinemas running, most of the cinemas screened Shahen Shah starred by Shakib Khan and some old films.
Meanwhile, the film Unpanchash Batash directed by Masud Hasan Ujjal was released on 23 October.
Ujjal said, "The film did a lot of business in cineplexes in Dhaka and Chattogram. Before the release, we thought we would face losses but it was received very well in the first month. Unfortunately, it did not continue and the cost of making the film has not returned yet. However, our digital and television rights have not been sold yet. If that is the case, we can reach break-even."
No new film has been released for almost a month after Unpanchash Batash. Then Kamal Sarkar directed Rangbaji-The Lafanga and Ferdous Khan directed Biography of Nazrul were released, which, of course, is not enough to make a profit or recover the capital.
Meanwhile, the much-awaited film Biswasundari was released on 11 December. This is the first film of director Chayanika Chowdhury and the first film of the production companies, Sun Music and Motion Pictures Limited.
The film stars Siam Ahmed and Pori Moni. There was an increased interest among the audience in the film and it has been screened in cineplexes for a long time. Director Chayanika said the film has been running for more than 100 days.
However, she is not yet sure whether or not the money invested has returned.
Not so much money is supposed to come in the overall situation in the pandemic. The film cost around Tk1.35 crore, she said.
Ajay Kumar Kundu, the executive producer of Sun Music and Motion Pictures Limited, said the film was released just to keep the commitment. Business was not good at all. In the present situation, people are not supposed to go to cinemas.
On the same day, the government-funded film Rupsha Nodir Bake, directed by Tanvir Mokammel, was released, however, in only two or three cinemas.
After that, no more films were released in December.
The film Pagoler Moto Bhalobhashi directed by Shaheen Sumon was released in January. This film starring Asif Noor and Adhara Khan cannot do much business either. It was screened in a handful of cinemas for one week, which was not enough to earn even half of the cost.
Meanwhile, in February, there were festivals like Valentine's Day and Bashonto Utsab, but those festivals were not colourful without any new film.
Although no film was released in February, six films were released in March. These are Tumi Acho Tumi Nei directed by Delwar Jahan Jhantu, Gantabya directed by Aranya Palash, the government-grant film Alat Chakra directed by Habibur Rahman, Sfulingo directed by Taukir Ahmed, the government-grant film Jauboti Konyar Mon directed by Nargis Akhter and Shahriar Nazim Joy's Priyo Komola.
Elena Shammi, one of the three producers of Gantabya, said the film was released after it was stuck for a long time. Not a single penny of Tk5 lakh she invested in the film has returned. The situation of the other two producers is similar.
The audiences were curious about Sfulingo of Taukir Ahmed released on 26 March. This is the second film starring Pori Moni released after Covid-19 but it did not attract many audiences.
However, Taukir Ahmed said there is nothing to say about the film. The situation is not conducive for going to cinemas and everyone knows and understands it.
A film called Tungi Parar Miya Bhai was released on 2 April, three days before the new lockdown started. Dighi and Shanto Khan have acted in the film produced by Shapla Media. The film did not do well. There were no instructions to close the cinemas during the lockdown but there was no audience.
Khorshed Alam Khasru, former president of the Bangladesh Film Producers and Distributors Association, said Covid-19 is the biggest enemy in the film market now. Besides, the marketing system of our country is very bad. Even if you make a film spending Tk1 crore, you will lose the total amount. Naturally, the films released in Covid-19 have witnessed losses. As far as I have heard, Unpanchash Batash and Biswasundari have done a little business."
Six Web Films Have Been Released
In the last 5.5 months, six films have been released on OTT. One such platform called i-Theater started its journey last December with popular film actor Shakib Khan's Nawab LLB. Apart from this, Anam Biswas's WTF has been released in G5. Ashfaq Nipun has made a Kasto Nir for Hoichoi. Two web films called Janwar directed by Raihan Rafi and Troll directed by Sanjay Samaddar have been released in a local app called Cinematic. And, before lockdown, a film called Jodi Kintu Tobu was released on G5.
In a recent interview, Tamjid Atul, director of Cinematic app, said that Janwar and Troll are well received by the audiences. The money invested has returned too. Subscribers are registering and watching the films.
All in all, the last 5.5 months have not been a good time for the film industry. Only time will say what will happen in the future but the expectation of those involved in the film is that the good days of the film will come back.
Films that have been released
Shahoshi Hero Alam-Mukul Netrabadi
Unpanchash Batash- Masud Hasan Ujjal
Rangbaji-The Lafanga-Kamal Sarkar
Biography of Nazrul-Ferdous Khan
Ruposhi Nodir Bake-Tanvir Mokammel
Pagoler Moto Bhalobashi-Shahin Sumon
Ei Tumi Shei Tumi-Delwar Jahan Jhandu
Alata Chakra-Habibur Rahman
Jouboti Konyar Mon-Nargis Akhter
Priyo Kamala-Shahriar Nazim Joy
Tungi Parar Miya Bhai-Selim Khan of Tungipara
Nawab LLB-Anonno Mamun-i-Theater
Kasto Nir-Ashfaq Nipun-Hoichoi
WTF- Onam Biswas- G5
Kashtanir-ashfaq nipun-hai chai
Jodi Kintu Tobuo-Shihab Shaheen-G5