Earlier this week filmmaker Anurag Kashyap tweeted about Shoojit Sircar's unreleased debut film Shoebite, pleading that it get a digital release and finally see the light of day.
Stalled since 2010, Shoebite stars Amitabh Bachchan as a man on a journey of self-discovery. The film also stars Dia Mirza and Jimmy Shergill and was previously titled Johnny Mastana and Johnny Walker. From writer Rensil D'Silva, Shoebite is reportedly based on Labor Of Love – a story by M Night Shyamalan's which he was looking to make in Hollywood, but the project never surfaced.
The reasons behind why Shoebite remains unreleased are unclear, with some reports indicating it's due to film's rights changing hands over the years with studios getting restructured. The film's producer Ronnie Screwvala responded to Anurag's tweet saying Fox Star India are the ones who could make it happen as the film was made by UTV Motion Pictures which was acquired by Fox Star, which is now owned by Disney.
In a recent interview with Film Companion Editor Anupama Chopra, actor Ayushmann Khurrana spoke highly of the film claiming it's the director's best work. "I've seen that film twice… and it is his best film to date. If it's released it's going to be India's entry to the Oscars or something like that, it's so beautiful. I think someone should request and release it right now. This is the time," said the actor.
"I feel it's an insult and disregard to creative people. You can't disrespect an artist like Mr Bachchan, who worked for two years on the film. Nothing has happened till now," Sircar had earlier told the Hindustan Times. Over the last few years, Amitabh Bachchan has made similar pleas on Twitter to have the film finally get its release.
Shoebite isn't the only film to garner a social media campaign for its release. Last month Indian film Twitter mobilised to champion Vasan Bala's debut Peddlers which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and remains unreleased. The film's rights remain with Eros International and when Anurag Kashyap tweeted at them demanding they release it on their streaming platform, he was quickly joined by many including director Vasan Bala, producer Guneet Monga, actor Vijay Varma and many others.
Why these films are yet to be distributed and whether the relevant studios are putting any effort into making that happen is unclear. But at a time when film production has come to standstill and streaming platforms are hungry for new content, you'd think the rights holders would put their might behind such films from highly acclaimed filmmakers and finally give them the audience they deserve.