Amitabh Bachchan’s new film goes straight to Amazon

Indian Bollywood film actor Amitabh Bachchan. (AFP pic)

MUMBAI: Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, whose films usually open to packed cinemas across India, will see his new movie released on Amazon’s streaming service due to the coronavirus lockdown, the US company said Thursday.

With nearly 1,800 titles released in 2018, India is the world’s biggest film industry in terms of movies made.

Film releases in cinemas are usually big events with fans often queueing for hours.

Bachchan’s new comedy-drama “Gulabo Sitabo”, also starring Ayushmann Khurrana and directed by Shoojit Sircar, had been scheduled to open in theatres on April 17.

But India has been in a strict coronavirus lockdown since late March and cinemas remain shut.

Amazon said the movie will now premiere on June 12 and be available in 200 countries and territories worldwide — in what Sircar called “the dawn of a new era for Indian entertainment”.

Analyst Akshaye Rathi said the move reflected “a tectonic shift for Bollywood and how business will be done in the future”.

“The Indian film industry has to keep the release window alive — either in theatres or digitally — to survive,” Rathi told AFP.

“The industry has to stop thinking about the next two quarters and focus on surviving for the next two decades by embracing technology.”

Amazon operates in a crowded field in India, alongside not just Netflix but also others such as Hotstar — partnered with Disney — in the fight for eyeballs in the market of 1.3 billion people.