Akshay, Ajay, Alia, Sushant among B'wood biggies confirmed for direct-to-OTT release

Mumbai, June 29 (IANS) Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, the late Sushant Singh Rajput, Abhishek Bachchan, Vidyut Jammwal and Kunal Kemmu are among Bollywood stars lined up for direct-to-OTT releases over the next months, what with cinema halls showing no signs of reopening in near future owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On the heels of Amazon Prime's mega splash a while back, it is now the turn of the streaming platform Disney+ Hotstar to go all out and announce a star-studded line-up for the next months.

On Monday afternoon, the OTT service confirmed that biggies including the Akshay Kumar-starrer "Laxmmi Bomb", Ajay Devgn's "Bhuj: The Pride Of India", "Sadak 2" starring Alia Bhatt, Sushant Singh Rajput's last film "Dil Bechara", "The Big Bull" which marks the return of Abhishek Bachchan, the Vidyut Jammwal-starrer "Khuda Haafiz" and "Lootcase" featuring Kunal Kemmu will go for straight-to-OTT release on Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex, a platform that the streaming service launched on Monday.

The seven films have been lined up for premiering on the platform July 24 onwards, it was confirmed at a virtual event on Monday that was moderated by Varun Dhawan. Participating in the event were many of the stars whose films are lined up for OTT releases on the platform -- Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, and Abhishek Bachchan.

The first film to be permiered is "Dil Bechara". As a tribute to the late actor the film will be available to all subscribers and non-subscribers of the platform.

Talking about taking "Laxmmi Bomb" directly to a digital platform, Akshay said: "The movie is extremely dear to me as it is something unique I have attempted for the first time! It is an entertaining mélange of horror and humour and it has a strong social message attached to it! I am certain that this movie will bring joy and hope for everyone in these trying times!"

"Having done a hundred films, I definitely took it for granted that theatres were where our films were meant to play. However, two things happened suddenly and almost simultaneously. The corona pandemic threw all our comfort worlds into a tizzy. And, at the same time the OTT medium that was a fairly new phenomenon gained a huge significance as far as consuming entertainment is concerned," Ajay said.

"In the future, theatres and OTT will move in parallel. Both options offer their own strengths. The platform will showcase ‘Bhuj: The Pride of India' across the length and breadth of the country. I think people will once again start looking forward to new film releases," he added.

Alia is very excited about the digital premiere of "Sadak 2", which is directed by Mahesh Bhatt.

"It was my first time working with my father, which makes this a dream come true. It has a very new but relevant emotional pulse, with an amazing cast. Working with Aditya Roy Kapur, Sanjay Dutt and Pooja has been magical. These are extraordinary and difficult times and all of us are trying to get through it, taking each day at a time. My father always says that a filmmaker's destination is the audience's heart," she said.

About the release of "The Big Bull", actor Abhishek Bachchan said: "There is nothing greater than the joy of being able to entertain someone through movies and great storytelling. And that's exactly what ‘The Big Bull' will do - it will keep audiences hooked till the very end."

"We are happy to partner with the best directors and most talented actors, and provide them with a platform to present their masterpieces," said Uday Shankar, president, The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman, Star & Disney India.

Talking about the initiative and its effect on the overall industry, he added: "Theatres are a special experience. So, they will always exist and thrive. But the potential of the industry can't be capped by the number of release windows and theatres available. Our initiative will dramatically increase the number of films that can be made, giving film-lovers more films to enjoy and the creative community more films to make. We firmly believe that this will generate a massive momentum for more and different kinds of films to be made in India. It's a win-win for all."

--IANS
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