Braving low turnout during pandemic, city theatres to screen films in truncated manner

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Kolkata, Nov 6 (PTI) Owners of some single-screen Kolkata theatres who were mulling suspension of screening from Friday due to low turnout at reopened cinema halls, reversed their decision, saying the show will go on in a truncated manner, after their counterparts in Mumbai decided to open doors to viewers despite risks.

The development in Maharashtra with cinema hall owners in the western state deciding to operate has motivated the owners here to run cinema halls even with one show, a spokesman of the Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA) said.

'If Mumbai, the hub of Hindi film industry with a large number of theatres, can take the risk of operating cinema halls amid lack of new content and fear of the audiences contracting COVID-19, why not Kolkata?' he asked.

Priya cinema in south Kolkata, which had been planning to suspend screening from November 6 due to lack of content rich films and very little audience, will now screen the 1969 Satyajit Ray classic 'Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne' for a single show every day from November 7, hall owner and director of Priya Entertainments Arijit Dutta told PTI.

'Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne', a fantasy film for children with a subtle anti-war message, had been produced by Purnima Pictures, owned by Dutta's family.

'Yes, we are not suspending shows. After the news from Maharashtra came, we deliberated among ourselves. The show must go on. But in the present situation, there is no point in running multiple shows,' Dutta said.

The Maharashtra government has allowed theatres to reopen from Thursday but it might be some more days before audiences can get to watch a movie on the big screen with hall owners saying they need some time to get things ready.

Another popular cinema hall Menoka in south Kolkata will run Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay-Nandita Roy production 'Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti', from November 6, reversing its earlier decision to close down from Friday till the situation was conducive.

'We had a talk among ourselves last afternoon after getting the news from Maharashtra. Running even one show is important to keep the morale high,' Pranab Roy, owner of Menoka Cinema Hall, said.

Sourav Bose, one of the owners of Basusree Cinema in Kalighat area of the city, said, 'we had been contemplating suspension of all shows till mid-December as we were getting four-five persons in a show or sometimes zero audience.

'However, after the developments in Maharashtra, we have decided to host one show daily as of now. We will run the Durga Puja release 'SOS Kolkata' starring Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty.' Apart from the aversion of a section of people to watch films in theatres despite all COVID-19 safety protocols being observed by the authorities, the increasing trend to have new and old releases on OTT platform and transferring the streaming from android sets to big screen smart TVs is changing the viewing habits of public, Bose said.

'To make them realise that there cannot be an alternative to watching some films on big screens, we may need some more time,' he said.

The EIMPA spokesman said, 50 per cent of about 200 single screens all over state had reopened after October 15- 16, but were running shows in empty houses. PTI SUS MM MM