This week Delhi-NCR saw the reopening of the cinema after a long gap of seven months due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Although the first day witnessed a lean audience, the theatre management and staff were happy to get back on the job.
As no new major Bollywood release is expected until the halls across the country get open, this is an opportunity for small-budget movies and local movies.
So, theatre owners are also screening films as per the demands of local audiences. In Kolkata, for instance, Ebha Golpo Hok, a Bengali movie, was released this weekend. Similarly in Delhi, the Remo awards 2019 winner movie, The pickup Artist, was released in a few selected theatres.
IndiaNarrative.com visited PVR Vikaspuri where we saw a newly married couple and students others among the first to visit the cinema hall on the day of reopening.
Simran Sethi, a widow in her mid-fifties, told IndiaNarrative.com after watching the 3:15 pm show, “You can’t compare the big-screen feeling with the small screen. I stay alone here. I don’t have kids. My husband died a few years back. I booked tickets for two shows without even checking the movie name. I’m excited.”
Rahul Luthra came to watch the Punjabi movie, Qismat, movie along with his wife Nancy. He said, “This is not only PVR’s first day of screening but our first movie after marriage.”
Nancy said, “Hope that new release will hit the screen soon.”
The government has allowed 50 per cent occupancy in cinema halls as of now, amid stringent Covid precautionary measures. The cinema owners told us that they are following all the guidelines, taking more precautionary measures than stipulated.
The 34-year-old Priyanka, who works at the food counter, said, “The food menu is very limited. Currently, we are serving Pepsi, popcorn, sandwich, burger, coffee, muffin, and nachos only.”
Did they receive any special instructions for the kitchen? “We are asked to disinfect all the counters, our hands and floors after the half-an-hour interval. Wearing a shield and mask is mandatory. We are also asked to avoid public transport as much as we can,” she said.
Multiplex staff is welcoming the audience with applause, smiling faces, greetings, balloons, Rangoli decorations. Amit Khurana, cinema general manager, told IndiaNarrative.com, “The first day is obviously lean. We have no new release at this point. We are happy that the government has at least allowed us to start. Around 25-30 people came to watch the first show, they can see how many precautions we’re taking. Gradually fear will too end.”
Nigam, PVR Vikaspuri cinema manager, said, “We are following all the guidelines and precautions. This is quite a new change for us. We are asking our customers to share their suggestions.”
Have there been any salary deductions? Nigam said, “We don’t hire staff on a part-time or freelance basis. Our staff here is on a regular PVR payroll. Yes, the salary of every employee got deducted from the month of May, but we’re hopeful that soon things will change.”