Kabir Khan, director of ’83’ Says The Pandemic Had a Significant Impact on The Film

While he is overjoyed that the cricket drama has received such widespread acclaim, he is also aware that the project’s box office prospects have suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kabir Khan describes his mental state as a “mixed bag” just over two weeks after his much-anticipated film ’83 hit theatres.

While he is overjoyed that the cricket drama has received such widespread acclaim, he is also aware that the project’s box office prospects have suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The film, directed by Ranveer Singh, chronicles India’s victory in the 1983 World Cup final, when the team defeated the mighty West Indies to win their first-ever World Cup trophy.

Kabir Khan

’83 was expected to make box office history when it was released on December 24 in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam, but the big-budget multi-starrer failed to translate the positive reviews into the box office numbers that the trade had predicted.

According to Reliance Entertainment, the film has earned more than Rs 97 crore in the domestic market.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, 50% theatrical occupancy in key states, and the complete closure of cinema halls in Delhi and Haryana, Khan called the film “a victim of the pandemic” and said it has done well.

“I’m ecstatic to have made this film, which has received so much praise, but I’m also disappointed that not everyone who wants to see it can do so today, because the pandemic has reached unprecedented proportions.” We cared for the film for two years, waiting for the right moment to release it so that everyone could see it on the big screen.

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“However, no matter how well we plan, we will never be able to prevent this pandemic.” We were completely unaware that the explosion (of cases) would occur on the day of our release. We (the country) reached 6,000 cases on December 24, and in ten days, we had reached a lakh. Khan described the situation as “sad.”

The team received an indication 48 hours before the release that things could “spiralling out of control,” but it was too late to react, so they went ahead with their “fingers crossed,” according to the director.

Gujarat, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh announced a night curfew the day after the film premiered, which Khan claimed had an impact on the film’s night showings. Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi chief minister, announced the closure of cinema halls within four days.

Kerala, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh followed suit and set a 50% occupancy limit for movie theatres.

The severity of COVID-19, according to Khan, kept the team on edge, as they would wake up every day wondering, “Ok, now what has shut down?”

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Because so many people enjoyed the film, it’s only natural to wonder what went wrong, and what went wrong is the pandemic. There was no way to retaliate. The pandemic isn’t just about theatres closing down; it’s also about this mentality… “It’s possible to change one’s mind (about stepping out) in an instant.”

While the film received overwhelmingly positive reviews, Khan believes there was a “agenda” with which the trade reported figures of “83,” completely ignoring the pandemic’s impact.

“The pandemic has taken a toll on the film.” How can you report the numbers if you don’t mention that there’s a raging pandemic going on?” enquired the 53-year-old filmmaker.

“You’re comparing us to other films that were released during non-COVID times, but this is a film that is being hammered by COVID on a daily basis, as we’re losing hundreds of theatres and screens.” Despite this, we have reached a global revenue of Rs 180 crore,” he noted.

While ’83’ has underperformed at the box office, the trade has hailed Allu Arjun’s “Pushpa: The Rise” as a genuine blockbuster, with its Hindi version grossing over Rs 74 crore.

The multilingual thriller premiered a week before ’83’ and clashed with ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home,’ a Hollywood superhero film.

’83,’ unlike ‘Pushpa,’ which made Rs 26 crore in its Hindi version’s first week when everything was working, didn’t even have the chance to have a restriction-free run, according to Khan.

“Everyone now knows that it all came crashing down on December 26th, when we realised we were in the midst of a third wave.” How much money did they (‘Pushpa’) make before that, and how much money did they make after that? Of course, they continued, but at a much lower level than we did.

“Didn’t we have a chance to fight that anywhere?” To always say, “Oh, but that one made money…” Yes, but consider the relative proportions. If it made Rs 26 crore in the first week, they increased it by Rs 50, and we made another Rs 100. Isn’t it strange that when you report numbers, you choose not to mention the pandemic at all? It was a blunder in reporting that cannot be forgiven. It has the odour of a hidden agenda and a lack of professionalism.”

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Khan stated that the entire team is proud of the film and believes that it will be properly recognised in the future.

“The movie is here to stay, and it will not be forgotten.” If my filmography is discussed ten years from now, ’83’ will always be at the top. That is something that gives me comfort in these difficult times,” he added.

Deepika Padukone, Pankaj Tripathi, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jiiva, Saqib Saleem, Jatin Sarna, Chirag Patil, Dinker Sharma, Nishant Dahiya, Harrdy Sandhu, Sahil Khattar, Ammy Virk, Adinath Kothare, Dhairya Karwa, and R Badree are among the film’s cast members.

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