Industry looks towards the Shah Rukh-starrer to revive its fortunesIt hasn’t been an easy time of late for Bollywood with its films failing at the box office even as movies from down South made a killing. Accused of losing connect with its core audience, Bollywood has struggled to come up with that one elusive blockbuster that would bring back cine-goers to watch its fare. Adding to its woes was the severe dent suffered by the ‘theatrical business’ post-pandemic with many of them in the North shutting shop. Pathaan seems poised to change all that. No Bollywood film in recent times has attracted such a strong response from the public as ‘Pathaan’. To be honest, the controversy surrounding the film has also contributed to the hype around the movie. The lead actress of the film Deepika Padukone is seen sporting a saffron bikini in the song “Besharam Rang” irking nationalists and leading to a call for a boycott of the film. The Central Board of Film Certification then suggested certain changes/cuts which were complied with by team ‘Pathaan’ although Deepika’s saffron costume in “Besharam Rang” remained intact. As the calls for boycotting the film grew by the day, exhibitors started writing to the State Governments asking for protection while screening the film. Even as the controversy threatened to spiral out of control, the film got a huge boost with none other than the Prime Minister of the country Narendra Modi advising his Party cadre to refrain from making unnecessary remarks on films. The relief in Bollywood circles is palpable. ‘Pathaan’ marks the comeback of Shah Rukh Khan to the silver screen after a gap of four years. He hasn’t had a hit befitting his stature in recent times and on the personal front as well, it’s been a torrid time for him with his son Aryan Khan being arrested in a drugs case. Aryan was subsequently cleared of all charges. ‘King Khan’ would be looking to put all these unsavoury episodes behind him and roar back to form at the ticket window. And so would Bollywood! The success of ‘Pathaan’ could well be the end of the nightmare for their films at the box office.The advance bookings for the film have been phenomenal with prominent multiplex chains recording sales of nearly 8 lakh tickets. The opening day collections in India alone are expected to be around Rs 40 crore. What’s more, 25 single screens in North India that closed down after the pandemic are now up and running thanks to ‘Pathaan’. Should the movie strike a chord with the audience, it probably wouldn’t be a hyperbole then to state that ‘Pathaan’ has the potential to do for Bollywood and its theatres, what ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ did for the US domestic box office and theatrical business. Major theatrical chains in the US were tethering on the verge of bankruptcy and tent-pole films, although successful, were far and few in between and not enough to bring the audiences back in hordes and reinforce the theatrical experience. Against this backdrop, came the highly anticipated ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’. James Cameron’s visual extravaganza which was released on December 16, 2022, is still going great guns in theatres worldwide and has entered the coveted 2 million dollar club in terms of revenues. Adverse climatic conditions and another pandemic in China did nothing to deter the audiences for what many believed was the ‘movie of a lifetime’. Suffice to say that ‘Avatar 2’ breathed fresh life into the US movie business and ‘Pathaan’ can easily have the same kind of effect on Bollywood. It’s about time too!