Amazon Prime Video to globally premiere seven Indian films as theatres remain closed

'Gulabo Sitabo', a film starring Amitabh Bachchan, and 'Shakuntala Devi', featuring Vidya Balan, are among the titles scheduled for online release

A still from the movie trailer of 'Gulabo Sitabo', a Bollywood film that will be streamed on Amazon Prime in June
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Bollywood fans can rest assured that they will have access to plenty of binge-worthy material to keep them entertained at home in the months to come.

On Friday, May 15, Amazon Prime announced that it will release seven highly anticipated Indian movies across five Indian languages between May and August on Amazon Prime Video.

This includes Gulabo Sitabo, a Hindi-language family comedy starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana, originally set for a big-screen release in April, that will now be go online on Friday, June 12. The release of Shakuntala Devi, a biopic about the Indian mathematician of the same name, with Vidya Balan playing the lead role, will follow (the date is yet to be announced).

Other films that will be released on the streaming service in the months to come are the Tamil-language Ponmagal Vandhal, Tamil and Telugu movie Penguin, Kannada films Law and French Biryani, and Malayalam movie Sufiyum Sujatayum.

“Indian audiences have been eagerly awaiting the release of these seven highly anticipated films and we are delighted that Amazon Prime Video will now be premiering these movies for our customers, who can enjoy watching these from the safety and comfort of their homes and on a screen of their choice," said Gaurav Gandhi, director and country general manager, Amazon Prime Video India.

"Prime Video, with its deep penetration in India, with viewership across over 4,000 towns and cities, and its world-wide reach in more than 200 countries and territories, will give a large global release footprint to these films,” he added.

Amazon's service launched in the Middle East in 2018, with Bollywood favourites, including Mirzapur and Gully Boy, available for streaming. The service also has a dedicated section for Hindi and Tamil movies.

Ranveer Singh in Gully Boy. Courtesy Excel Entertainment
Ranveer Singh in Gully Boy. Courtesy Excel Entertainment

As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, the service launched a new hub called Prime Video Cinema, which allows users to watch films on theatrical release from home.

The new releases come during India's lockdown, which has left about 9,500 theatres shut and without a source of revenue. The move has further strained the relationship between cinema owners and streaming services.

Inox, one of the biggest cinema chains in the country, said in a recent statement: “Inox will be constrained to examine its options and reserves all rights, including taking retributive measures in dealing with such fair-weather friends.”

PVR, another huge Indian cinema chain, has also expressed disappointment in the move by Amazon.