Unless you have been living under a rock, you would know that audiences around the world were eagerly awaiting the new James Bond adventure ‘No Time to Die’ when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Fans were ecstatic to see Daniel Craig in this iconic role one last time before he moved on. However, it seems fate had other plans altogether. Without warning, in December 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the whole world in a manner not seen ever before.
No Means No, the upcoming thriller directed by Vikash Verma, was to be released in 2020 as well. The first Indo-Polish co-production, No Means No aimed to deepen bilateral relations between India and Poland, just like Raj Kapoor’s 1970 movie, Mera Naam Joker, rekindled the bond between India and Soviet Russia. The plot revolves around Raj (played by Dhruv Verma) who comes to Poland for a ski competition but ends up falling in love. Fate, it seemed, had other plans as Raj is forced to do everything in his power to save the girl he so loves very dearly.
Coronavirus struck the world in an unprecedented way – closing borders, creating social distancing and, sadly, resulting in millions of untimely deaths. With all sectors of the global economy battered by this pandemic, the film industry too has not been spared as well. Local rules everywhere have mandated that cinemas, once the prime avenues for people to meet and enjoy films together, must close down to prevent virus transmission. This has meant that both film production and theatrical releases were grounded to a complete halt, causing significant issues for both production houses and theatre owners.
Originally slated to release in April 2020, this globetrotting adventure starring James Bond was pushed back again and again, just like many similar films were (Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984). Some of these films went to OTT platforms as investors raced to salvage what they had spent. Others, like No Time To Die, decided that audiences needed to see such films on the big screen. Therefore, No Time to Die moved to the fall, ultimately deciding on a September 2021 release date.
As an action adventure that takes place in the picturesque Polish wilderness, No Means No marks a turning point for Indian cinema as it successfully melds a big budget action film with a leading women’s rights movement slogan to make a statement about the current cultural zeitgeist. With an expansive cast that includes Gulshan Grover, the film was sure to be one of the most highly expected Indian films of 2020.
However, this groundbreaking film has fallen victim to this pandemic as well. As the coronavirus pandemic spread, the team behind No Means No raced to finish post production on the film but a series of closures of the global theatre industry turned out to be devastating for their plans. With good pre-release hype, audiences around the world were waiting for the release of this action thriller but the Covid-19 pandemic put a resounding stop to all such plans.
All is not doom and gloom and thankfully, the situation is poised to recover soon. The film’s initial theatrical release has, so far, been delayed until early 2021 at the earliest, in line with when movie theatres will freely open their doors once again.
These two films are not alone. Several Bollywood and other films across the globe have been taking a similar approach with Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi and the Kabir Khan-helmed 83 both being postponed to at least March 2021. Most filmmakers are targeting mid-2021 because this is when the majority of the global population would have been vaccinated and thus, herd immunity would be achieved. Theatres, and other avenues of success, would then be free to open without any restrictions whatsoever.
However, this ideal scenario is at least several months away at the earliest. Despite the disappointment this will bring to many cinema fans, it is a price we all must pay in order to slow the spread of the virus and protect those around us. Although for many of us, cinema is both our bread and butter and our passion, this long closure is a small price to pay for putting an end to this devastating pandemic.
Thankfully, there will be a day when theatres will open again, and as such cinema will be able to return to our lives. When that day comes, No Means No will, with luck, flow into cinemas and become widely available for the viewing public to enjoy.