Posted Thu, March 28, 2013 9:30am IST

The Indian Premier League cricket tournament starts next month. But there are a number of films up for release over the next couple of weeks. Will they be able to hold their own against the draw of celebrity-supported cricket? We toss that ball around….

It’s that time of the year again, the month when even the biggest producers are nervous about new releases. And they have good reason to be afraid, what with the next season of the Indian Premier League cricket matches that starts from April 3, threatening to take over the average Indian entertainment-seeker’s life.

Cricket is hands down India’s biggest obsession, on par with Hindi films, which makes producers leery of releasing movies during big tournaments such as the IPL. And this time too there are a number of big movies scheduled for release over the next few weeks. However, it seems that this season, filmmakers are taking a calculated risk and going ahead with their plans – big productions like Nautanki Saala, Ek Thi Daayan, Shootout at Wadala and Zanjeer will soon hit the screens. Leading exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi explains that “Over the last few years, various films like Housefull, Housefull 2, Love, Sex Aur Dhokha, Ishaqzaade, Ferrari Ki Sawari, etc have released during the IPL, and done rather well at the box office. If a film manages to excite the audience through its promos no matter what, the public finds the time to watch it. Besides, everyone following the IPL has a favourite team, which would play twice or thrice in a week, leaving the rest of the days for these people to catch films at the cinemas. Most of the films releasing during the forthcoming season of the IPL have a terrific buzz and will definitely do well.”

The movies Rathi thinks will have a sure chance at success are interesting, indeed.. “Shootout at Wadala, Ek Thi Daayan, Aurangzeb should do well all over, while Commando could just be a surprise draw in the B & C class centres. Also, Bombay Talkies can do well in the multiplexes in metros, while Zanjeer‘s Telugu (Toofan) version should do well in Andhra, courtesy Ram Charan Teja,” he predicts.

Which films will release during the IPL? Which among these could withstand the pressure of maintaining steady box office collections and drawing viewers into theatres even as teams like the Kolkata Knight Riders, the Rajasthan Royals, the Delhi Daredevils, Chennai Super Kings, Kings XI Punjab, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Pune Warriors India, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians battle it out on the cricket field? We take a look….

Nautanki Saala: Kunaal Roy Kapoor and Ayushmann Khurrana’s madcap romantic comedy about a theatre actor and a loose cannon loser, as they fumble and ham their way through life. It looks like the movie has a great chance at the box office with superb casting choices and a freshness that the leading male pair of Kunal and Ayushmann bring with their unique chemistry.

Ek Thi Daayan: With a strong star cast comprising Emraan Hashmi, Huma Qureshi, Kalki Koechlin and Konkona Sen Sharma, Ek Thi Daayan looks like another strong contender to draw viewers into theatres. With Balaji Motion Pictures producing and promoting this one, it seems that the IPL wont pose any great threat to the film.

Shootout at Wadala: Clearly one of the year’s biggest films, Shootout at Wadala boasts of a stellar star cast made up of John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Sonu Sood, Manoj Bajpaaye, Kangna Ranaut and Tusshar Kapoor. Based on the real life story of gangster Manya Surve, SAW has the potential to emerge a strong winner. The movie releases on May 1.

Zanjeer: Starring Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka Chopra and Ram Charan Teja, Zanjeer is another big budget film that has the clout to withstand pressure from cricket, as well as from the other movies releasing around May 10. With Sanjay Dutt playing an important role, the movie may draw a whole lot of curious viewers to theatres, given that this is Dutt’s first film after his jail term was announced.

Commando: A slick movie featuring strong man Vidyut Jamwal as a one man army Commando, according to distributors, may emerge as the surprise hit of the year. And considering that Force – which featured Vidyut Jamwal in a similar but negative role – was a hit, there are expectations that this one may fare well at the box office.

Aurangzeb: Yash Raj Films’ latest outing starring Arjun Kapoor and Prithviraj which is reportedly a remake of the 1978 hit Trishul is another film that could be a surprise hit. Besides being big studio film, it is also touted to be a slick drama that features Arjun Kapoor in a double role. Also, by choosing to release the movie on May 17 – near the time when the most exciting final matches of the IPL will be played – it looks like the producers are confident of their product!

Chashme Baddoor: Another remake, Chashme Baddoor featuring Siddharth and Ali Zafar is a hilarious comedy where three friends fight for one girl. Considering comedies usually fare better than most, Chashme Baddoor may also not be in great danger. But again, IPL or no IPL, the fate of this film will ultimately depend on its content.

Bombay Talkies: The film is a tribute by Bollywood filmmakers to Indian cinema completing 100 years of making movies. Four top notch filmmakers including Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar and Dibakar Banerjee have worked on the four short films that make up the movie. Although it is an unique experiment in filmmaking, we’re sure the multiplex audiences are going to appreciate the film, and it may trump the IPL with the quality of content and production values.

Other smaller budget films releasing alongside IPL are Luke Kenny’s Rise Of The Zombie, Sunny Deol and Kangna Ranaut starrer I Love New Year, Aashiqui 2 featuring Aditya Roy Kapur and Shradha Kapoor, Ankur Arora Murder Case starring Paoli Dam and Kay Kay Menon, Gippi starring Taaha Shah and Riya Vij, Mickey Virus featuring Manish Paul and Varun Badola and Hum Hai Raahi CAR Ke starring Sanjay Dutt and Juhi Chawla.