With the second wave taking the front seat in India, many businesses once again have been affected by the novel coronavirus induced restrictions. The film industry, amongst the many, has been hit the hardest due to the pandemic. Ever since the first lockdown that was imposed in March 2020, theatres have been shut, causing huge losses to people who work in this industry. Exhibitors, distributors and theatre owners saw a ray of hope when back in November 2020, the government lifted the restrictions and allowed 50 per cent occupancy in theatres. Soon 100 per cent occupancy was also allowed in theatres and film-makers even announced the release date of their films like Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi and Salman Khan’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai.
People were gearing up to finally see their favourite stars on the screen, only to realise that it might not happen after all. Ever since March 2021, the number of cases across the country has risen once again and the government has decided to shut down theatres to ensure the safety of the people. Talking about how the shutting of theatres once again will affect the business, COEAI (Cinema Owners And Exhibitors Association Of India) Head, Nitin Datar stated that only Kumar or Khan’s film won’t help revive the business, and more film-makers should plan to release their films in theatres.
“We have informed the Maharashtra state government that the exhibitors are willing to offer their theatres as quarantine centres if they are in shortage of beds. We have electricity, fans and safety measures in place. We are yet to hear back from them on it. We have also asked the government to let us use our premises for any other legal purposes, as the theatres have anyway been shut since the past year,” Datar told Pinkvilla.
He continued, “In fact, some of our exhibitors hadn’t opened their cinemas earlier too when the government had allowed, as by then most films had taken the OTT route. I think by the time all the permissions are given, 25 to 30 per cent of theatres all over Indian will stop functioning because of the losses they have suffered until now.”
“One Sooryavanshi or Radhe will not help the theatres to revive, we need others also to release their films. But till the time the occupancy is not increased to 100 per cent, I don’t think any producer will be willing to make a theatrical release. Since the last few months, many exhibitors are trying their best to run the business, even if it’s not making money. But at present the situation is grave, and we don’t know what the future holds in store for us.”