In showbiz parlance the show must go on. Bollywood alone is staring at Rs 2000 losses and it could feel the Covid-19 impact for another two years. Several delegations of Indian film industry have been meeting the Information and broadcasting minister Mr Prakash Javedekar to find away to open up the cinema halls. The fact is Indian film industry has huge employment and many of them had to be laid off as production houses could not bear the costs of salaries. Adding to this is the immense growth in OTT platforms which have eaten into the revenues and the worry remains that viewers may change their viewing habits and may still prefer to watch movies at homes.
It is these factors which made the government agree to opening of cinema theatres a move welcomed by producers and actors. Abhishek Bachchan for instance was the first to react with a tweet with a dancing emoji. Shoots have begun with many restrictions and now government has released SOPs to cinema halls to ensure precautions in Covid times.
The SOPs are stringent . First no cinema theatres will be allowed to be opened in containment zones. Face covers and mass mandatory. Six feet distance mandatory in all public areas and hand sanitisers and washes are to be allowed at all places . The occupancy of the cinemas will not be more than 50% and a map has been made to show the seating arrangement which would ensure empty seats and sufficient gaps between viewers. Also show timings are to be staggered with sufficient time for sanitising the theatres. Apart from this advance online booking will be encouraged and extra booking counters to be set up to ensure there are no long queues for availing tickets.
No delivery of food will be allowed inside the cinema halls. Instead only packaged pre-ordered meals and beverages will be allowed.
A word with the producers and members of the film fraternity got cautious response. While all welcome the move they say they are aware that people may still be reluctant to come to movies halls. And with these restrictions and only 50% filling up allowed inside theaters, the costs may not add up and the film industry is bracing for a loss. But then show must go on and the industry feels something is better than nothing. It only adds pressure on the producers to cut costs, restrict infrastructure and ensure that profit margin are increased.