Production houses, theatre owners welcome Bengal govt's decision to allow full occupancy of cinemas

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Kolkata, Feb 3 (PTI) Production houses and cinema hall owners Wednesday welcomed the West Bengal government's decision to allow full occupancy in theatres, saying their much-awaited Bengali films are being lined up for release in the coming months with the hope that audiences will return to the cinemas to watch their choicest movies as in pre-lockdown days.

The state government had on Monday allowed 100 per cent occupancy in cinema halls and multiplexes.

Big ticket 'Golondaaj', a period film on the life of footballer Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikary with superstar Dev in lead role, will be released in August, a spokesperson of SVF Entertainment, which has produced over 120 films, told PTI.

The production house has romantic comedy 'Prem Tame' lined up for release on February 12, followed by 'Psycho' in April-early May, the spokesperson said.

'With the occupancy limit raised to optimum level by both the Centre and the state in theatres and the stipulation that COVID-19 safety protocols must be adhered to, people are feeling more confident to visit cinema halls.

'We have one or two more films in pipeline in the coming months,' she said.

The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had allowed 100 per cent occupancy in theatres on January 30.

Another keenly awaited Bengali film, 'Dictionary', directed by theatre personality-actor-minister Bratya Basu and starring actor-MP Nusrat Jahan among others, will be released on February 12.

'The release of 'Dictionary' will be special because of the state government allowing full occupancy in theatres.

Everyone is eager to go back to cinema halls and we are happy to offer a good film to the audience. We will not disappoint them,' producer Firdausal Hassan said.

Hassan, president of Film Federation of India, an apex body of producers and distributors, said, 'the decision of the central and state governments to lift the 50 per cent cap on audience to 100 per cent level and a decline in COVID-19 cases will gain back confidence of people to return to cinema halls now.' He, however, urged hall owners to ensure that government-stipulated COVID-19 safety protocols are followed in letter and spirit.

Eastern India Motion Pictures Association office- bearer Ratan Saha said, all the single screens, which are open, are putting in place measures in accordance with the state government notification and hoping for increased turnout of audiences in the coming days, particularly during weekends.

'But apart from Bengali film production houses, big time producers in Bollywood should also come forward with new releases,' he said.

Film distributor Satadeep Saha, owner of a single screen hall and a multiplex chain, said the industry is banking on a 3D movie 'Monster Hunter', an English film dubbed in Hindi, to be released in 50 theatres on February 5.

'We hope with the rise in occupancy and the release of a 3D film, the situation will improve and audience perception will change which will to a gradual increase in footfall,' Saha said. PTI SUS MM MM MM