Maharashtra has slowly gone back to normalcy despite the pandemic being on the rise. However, the state of our theatres still remains uncertain. The Maharashtra government recently extended the lockdown till November 30, with no further relaxations. This means the theatres will be shut for yet another month and the exhibitors and theatre owners are facing some major losses due to this continuous shutdown from the last 8 months.
A leading daily spoke to some of the exhibitors and theatre owners and asked them their plight in these critical times. Manoj Desai, executive director of G7 multiplex in Bandra (Mumbai) told the daily, “Our business shoots up during this period, but it’s a black Diwali this year. (On paper), I have eight theatres standing, but in reality, we are broke.”
Akshaye Rathi, who owns cinemas in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, says that due to another month in lockdown he has no option but to let go of his staff. He even states that what discrimination the theatres are facing right now is unfair, “Are cinemas the only place where the virus spreads? Everything else has reopened – be it metros, salons, and even trains.”
Meanwhile Delhi who has reopened its theatres says that they are facing big losses as the occupancy is barely 10 percent on weekdays and 15 percent on weekends. Gurmeet Singh Seble of Seble Cinema, Delhi, urges the Multiplex Association of India to rethink the decision of screening films which have already been released on OTT platforms. “It will do wonders for us if we can screen Akshay Kumar’s Laxmii. Nobody wants to watch past blockbusters. We need new films.”
Films like Indoo Ki Jawaani and Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari which were supposed to release this November, have now their release date hanging and the makers will only decide once theatres re-open.