Pune: Single screen theatres continue to remain shut in Pune despite the state government allowed the reopening of cinema halls, multiplexes, drama theatres in unlocking of sectors in Maharashtra.
Most owners said they found it difficult to restart businesses complying with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government. Besides, several owners have sought permission from the Maharashtra government to shut down their businesses.
Dilip Borawakewho who owns Laxminarayan Theatre, says: "Opting for single-screen theatres to watch movies is the last option the customers would prefer in today's time. They either go to a multiplex or other online platforms and it is practically impossible for us to compete with them. Since then, the revenue in our business has dipped and it is practically impossible for us to operate."
Another theatre owner said, "We can't sanitize every chair after every show in the theatre. It is difficult for us to provide all the facilities as per the government SOPs as they will increase our expenses. There is not much business in this industry now. Hence, we have decided that we shall either keep it closed till the time vaccine comes. We hope that the government helps us survive in this difficult time."
"There is a rule in Maharashtra which states that single-screen theatres can't shut down theatre business and start any other business in the jurisdiction of municipal corporation area. If they want to start one, they have to keep one-third of the place functional for theatres only and the remaining area can be used for any other business. This is the reason why many theatres in the state have remained shut for months and years. The owners cannot start any other business at that place and it has become difficult for them to manage expenses", says Kunal Mohol, an owner of multiple theatres.
Deepak Kudale who owns multiple theatres, says, "The government should at least provide us with an option to start any other business besides operating theatres as it's our fundamental right to do any business at our property. We have also given a letter to the chief minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader, Sharad Pawar. They have assured us to hold a meeting after Diwali over this matter. We are hopeful they will understand our problem." On November 4, Maharashtra Government had allowed cinema halls, theatres and multiplexes to open with 50 percent of their seating capacity in areas outside containment zones from November 5.