Majority cinema halls in the national capital remained closed on Thursday and a few that reopened after seven months of the coronavirus-induced shutdown attracted very few audience for the “first day, first show” in the time of pandemic. Some of the theatres that reopened held special screenings for COVID-19 warriors or staff members and their families.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s last theatrical release Chhichhore, Kedarnath, Tanhaji, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Malang, War and Thappad are among films that have been re-released on the big screen since there are no new releases this week. PVR Naraina’s first show was a special screening of Tapsee Pannu-starrer “Thappad” for 40 coronavirus warriors, including doctors and civil defence volunteers. The special screening was organised by the New Delhi District Magistrate’s office.
Similarly, at PVR Cinema at 3C’s Mall in Lajpat Nagar, a special screening of “Tanhaji” was organised for the staff members and their families. The theatre will remain open for public from Friday onwards. “We have total three shows tomorrow onwards. Our first show will start at 12 pm for Dream Girl, followed by Tanhaji at 3.15 pm and at 6.30 pm we have a Punjabi movie (Sardarji). We are maintaining social distancing at every point here. We have demarcations at the ticket counters, inside the cinema halls, at entry as well as exit points,” said Sandeep Singh, Cinema Manager of PVR Cinemas at 3C’S.
“We are using the latest anti-microbial treatment to sanitise the halls. It was also used in sanitising all the touch points like door handles. Sanitiser dispensers have been placed at all major points inside and at the entry points of the cinema halls. We are also encouraging contact-less digital payments,” he added. At Cinepolis cinema in Greater Kailash, only five tickets were sold for the 11.30 am show.
Cinepolis Fun cinema at V3S mall in Nirman Vihar, PVR Cinema at EDM Mall in Kaushambi, Eros cinema in Jangpura, and Cinepolis Karkadooma were among the theatres that remained closed. Owner of Milan Cinema Ravinder Gupta said that it was very difficult to reopen the hall. “My single screen hall has accumulated lakhs of rupees in dues due to pending fixed charges of electricity in past eight months. Also, due to COVID-19 no new releases are there to attract the audience,” he said.
Ushering in a new era of movie watching, the Union government allowed multiplexes, cinema halls and theatres to reopen from Thursday within the framework of a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs). The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) left it to states to take a final call on the matter. The SOPs mandated by the Union government include one seat distance in halls, 50 per cent capacity, masks at all time, proper ventilation and air conditioner temperature settings at above 23 degrees Celsius. Many cinema halls shut down even before the nationwide lockdown came into effect from March 25 and managements are hoping desperately to get back to work.
In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called a meeting of theatre owners on Wednesday to discuss arrangements before they reopen their doors to the public.