• Thursday, March 30, 2023

Entertainment Stories

Pathaan running packed shows in South Africa amid hope for Bollywood revival

By: Mohnish Singh

With houseful shows across South Africa, superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan has emerged as a harbinger of hope for Hindi cinema that enjoys a special following in the country.

Thousands of fans saw the film on 21 screens in the country over the weekend with all major cinema chains and independent theatres hosting up to seven shows every day.

“The last time anything like this happened was almost a quarter of a century ago, when there was unprecedented fan frenzy for Shah Rukh’s ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hain’,” said AB Moosa, CEO of the Avalon Group, the primary distributor of Bollywood films in South Africa.

Moosa’s grandfather screened the first Indian film in the country in the 1940’s and since then, his family has been at the forefront of bringing Indian content to South Africa.

He said the coronavirus pandemic had dealt a major blow to the Hindi film market in South Africa but “Pathaan”, which has grossed close to Rs 600 crore globally (£60 million), has brought a much-needed cheer.

“Certainly the Covid pandemic was a major blow to the cinema industry here, as it was globally, but the recovery, though it has taken over a year now, has been encouraging. Our faith in Bollywood has been consistent through the decades and we were confident that it would find renewed support in a post-Covid era.

“The incredible boost that ‘Pathaan’ has brought to this revival is immeasurable. There were rare occasions in the past decade or so where we would have queues at specific shows for films featuring the Khan triumvirate of Bollywood – Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman – as well as Hritihik Roshan and Akshay Kumar, but nothing like what we saw over the past weekend,” Moosa said.

At the Killarney CineCentre in Johannesburg, there were seven shows daily at the weekend, an unprecedented record for a single Bollywood title.

With several more top movies lined up over the next few months, Moosa said the first major release of 2023 augers well for Bollywood cinema in South Africa.

“People want to get out and enjoy the escapism that cinema brings by watching entertainment on the big screen, and worldwide, Yash Raj has hit the right formula at the right time,” Moosa said.


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