Coronavirus in Bhopal: The wait goes on for Cine-lovers; No reopening of theatres in Sept

BHOPAL: The wait for movies for cine-lovers in the city needs more patience. Speculations were going round that the Unlock 4.0 may bring more relaxation for the movieholics. But the wait seems to go long. Though theatre owners have made it clear to reopen the theatres once the corona pandemic exits and they are permitted to run halls with full capacity.

All single and multi-screen movie theatres in the city are shut since March 14. It was hoped that they would be allowed to reopen from September with the onset of UNLOCK 4.0 but as per the latest guidelines of the Government of India, the movie halls will continue to remain shut fot at least this month. The prolonged closure of the cinema halls has led to the sacking of their staffers. And of course, cine-lovers are a disappointed lot. There are 263 single-screen theatres in the state. There are 23 multiplexes and 10 single- screen theatres in Bhopal.

Secretary of MP Cinema Association, Azizuddin, told Free Press that they won’t open the theatres even if the government allows them to as it would be unviable to run them with 50 per cent occupancy. “Our expenses will remain unchanged but our collections will be halved. How would we survive?” he asked. He said that around 11 big-ticket Hindi movies like World Cup 83, Happy Diwali, Radhe, Laxmi Bomb, Bhuj, Brahmastra and Lal Singh Chaddah are ready for release. Each of these films is expected to do a business of Rs 200-300 crore. “But why would the producers release them in theatres if they know that they would fetch them just half the amount. And when they won’t release films, what would we do,” he asked.

He said that the theatre owners paid salaries to their staff for four months but now they have dispensed with the services of all staffers except chowkidars. “We will open the theatres only when the situation is completely normalised and we are allowed to run on full capacity,” he said.

Manager of Rang Mahal Cinema, New Market, M H Rizvi was hoping that cinema halls would be allowed to reopen from September 1. But it didn’t happen. “I haven’t been paid my salary for the past five months”, he said, adding that the owner had assured him that they would get his arrears after the theatre reopens. “What to do. The situation is the same in all fields,” Rizvi said. The Cinema has around 12 employees.

Owner of Bharat Cineplex, Ashwini Agrawal, said that they are incurring huge losses. They were expecting that theatres will be allowed to reopen from this month. Now that it has not happened, they are pinning their hopes on the next guidelines. “We had 15 employees but now we have just seven. We have been paying them 60 per cent of their salaries. But I don’t know whether we would be able to pay this month”, he said.

A movie lover Harshita Mishra said that she is very disappointed. “We were eagerly waiting for the theatres to open. After all, mobile phones or laptops can never replicate the feel of watching a film on the big screen,” she said.

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