The perennial pan India cash cow, the cinema business, with its jingling cash registers is sending out distress signals right now! After two long Covid-19 pandemic hit (locked down) years, just as the film industry started seeing rosy dreams of making up for heart-breaking business losses, come Pongal Festival, a sudden downturn is now predicted. For years now, the Tamil calendar’s annual Pongal week always meant family indulgences with anything cinematic. That may not happen this time round, as Omicron and its tsunami wave hits the solar plexus of exhibitors and industry big guns alike. Three big budget films, RRR (directed by India’s Cecil B DeMille aka Bahubali SS Rajamouli), Boney Kapoor’s Ajith Kumar starrer Valimai and Prabhas-Pooja Hegde love anthem, Radhe Shyam were lined up for the Pongal sweepstakes. Then came government orders about total Sunday curfews, lockdown daily between 10 pm and 5 am and 50% seating in cinemas. The trade had estimated Rs 600 crore collections from these three films released worldwide and overseas. They had probably structured all their debt and business plans on Pongal to rake in big moolah. But, Omicron seems to have played spoilsport. Big disappointment for fans of Ajith, Prabhas NT Rama Rao Jr, and Ram Charan. But, it’s a question of a month or two before these movies hit theatres near you soon.