It's official. Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana starrer Gulabo Sitabo is heading for a direct digital release on Amazon Prime Video, the makers announced on Thursday. Directed by Shoojit Sircar, the Lucknow-set satire will start streaming from June 12 worldwide.
Gulabo Sitabo is a quirky tale of two slimy scheming foxes — a landlord and tenant— in a game of one upmanship. A Rising Sun Films Production, the movie was ready for an April release but owing to the coronavirus-induced shutdown the filmmakers decided to take the digital route.
Sircar said he is happy that the film, penned by frequent collaborator Juhi Chaturvedi, will finally release. "I am happy that finally I can put forward my film as quickly as possible. As soon as the story was baked, I wanted to serve it. These are unforeseen circumstances, we all have to go through it," the director said in an interview. The film is the first direct digital release for Sircar.
"I have never experimented on a digital platform so this is the first time that we are releasing a film straight on a streamer. It's quite exciting as digital is going to be the future," he added.
The director has previously directed Bachchan in Piku (2015), alongside Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan, and the megastar said the dramedy is a "must watch for families at home".
"I had a wonderful time working with my very talented co-star Ayushmann Khurrana. Even though we are constantly bantering in the film, it has been a pleasure working with him for the first time.
"This family entertainer has the power to cut across geographic boundaries and we are pleased to bring Gulabo Sitabo to audiences across the globe," Bachchan said in a statement.
Gulabo Sitabo also reunites Khurrana with Sircar after the 2012 hit Vicky Donor, which was the actor's debut in Bollywood. Khurrana said this is a "special film" for him for many reasons. "It made me reunite with my mentor Shoojit da after Vicky Donor. Whatever I’m today is because of him and I’m happy that he made me a part of his vision again. Gulabo Sitabo also sees me share the screen space with Mr Amitabh Bachchan for the first time and it’s a huge moment, it’s a dream come true for me," he said.
Sircar said while some films may take the "same route" of streamers during the COVID-19 pandemic, theatrical experience is here to stay.
Both cinema halls and digital platforms will continue to coexist, he added. "Experience of watching Gulabo Sitabo on Amazon will be no less than watching the film in theatres. I saw Roma, which directly released on a streamer in 2018, and then watched The Bicycle Thief and Pather Panchali, and that gave me that much a cinematic kick when I saw these films on a digital platform."
Producer Ronnie Lahiri said the film was earlier scheduled to be released last year, but was postponed as they wanted to go on floors with Sircar's next directorial, "Sardar Udham Singh" biopic with actor Vicky Kaushal.
As the team focuses on one project at a time, Gulabo Sitabo had to wait for a release window, he said. "We were ready now but unfortunately this whole situation happened. With any difficult scenario, there is always another route forward that one has to find. The idea is to adapt to the situation. There is always a matter of preference but there are situations that go beyond our control," Lahiri said. The producer said what matters is that the viewers will get to see the film, regardless of the platform.
"For us, it's exciting that at least the film is ready and a lot of people will see it. And what better platform than Amazon which is going to go across 200 territories worldwide. It's like a world premiere, so more people will watch it. For us, the bigger love is when people see the film," Lahiri said.
Calling Gulabo Sitabo as "one of my most important" films, Sircar said releasing the movie straight on digital was motivated "purely by choice". "When I was offered and asked by Ronnie for the digital release, it was purely by choice (that we went for it) at this moment. I have a fresh novelty to the film. I have lived with the story for two-three years. When I make a film, I always feel it should reach to the audience as soon as possible," he explained.
Vijay Subramaniam, director and head, content, Amazon Prime Video, India, said they are are happy to exclusively premiere one of the most anticipated films of the year "Gulabo Sitabo" on the streamer.
"The global release of Gulabo Sitabo on Prime Video, in over 200 countries and territories, will ensure maximum reach and visibility for the film not just in India but around the world," added Gaurav Gandhi, director and country general manager, Amazon Prime Video India.