Mumbai: Indian film fans banged drums, danced and ate cake outside Mumbai cinemas on Friday to celebrate Bollywood´s first big-budget release since the pandemic began.
Cinemas shuttered in March 2020 under a strict lockdown when Covid-19 first hit the country, and then enjoyed a brief reprieve before closing after a massive virus surge in April.
The industry is hoping for a rebound with theatres back in business across the country, most recently in Mumbai, capital of Bollywood, the world´s most prolific film industry.
First out of the blocks on Friday, just in time for the Diwali festival weekend -- traditionally a time for blockbuster releases -- was "Sooryavanshi", the first marquee Bollywood film to be released on the big screen in 18 months.
Fans danced and chanted the name of the action caper´s star Akshay Kumar -- with one even baking a chocolate cake embossed with the name of the movie.
"We have been waiting for almost one and half years for a big Bollywood movie to be released," said Sikander, one fan eager to watch the film.
"You can see the crowds chock-a-block here. I don´t remember the last time I have seen such a huge crowd of moviegoers," he told AFP.
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