With every Unlock announcement, the cinema exhibition sector waits with bated breath to get a green light for operations, but even after four such phases, the doors of cinemas are still shut. And while the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) and various other theatre bodies have been constantly making rounds of the various ministries with detailed SOPs, they have only been met with disappointment so far.
Many Bollywood celebrities including the likes of Abhishek Bachchan, Boney Kapoor, Richa Chadha, Anurag Kashyap, Manoj Bajpayee, Suniel Shetty,Anubhav Sinha have taken to social media to extend their support to the industry as well as make an appeal to the government to #SaveCinemasSaveJobs.
“There is zero income for six months and the expenses are mounting. Every filmmaker and actor needs to speak out now because this is the industry that has made all of them who they are. This is the least they owe to the people who are employed by the industry. They are now getting the fat pay check from the OTT platforms because of what they have achieved numbers at the box office in the past. We have actors who are speaking about migrant labours, student, etc but their own house is burning and virtually most of them have turned a blind eye. A few of them have spoken out but for the survival of this whole ecosystem the entire industry needs to stand together,” shares film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi.
As many as 20 lakh jobs at stake and many are now questioning how can this be ignored by the same people whose films are exhibited in cinemas.
“This is an absolute inhuman situation. There has to be certain level of sympathy or empathy or logic,” says Shibasish Sarkar, CEO of Reliance Entertainment, who has been spearheading a social media campaign to get cinemas to open.
Talking about the same, he adds, “What else can you do, you have to probably create a momentum of the whole issue. We all want to do business; we don’t want to do agitation. I think the focus has to be keep this momentum going and see how the word reaches the decision makers.”
Filmmaker Milap Zaveri too has taken to social media to express his disappointment over the lack of support to the cinemas. Talking about how Hollywood star Tom Cruise recently shared a video of his movie going experience in London, Zaveri feels it is time for big stars of Bollywood to weigh in their support to the sector.
“I hope many big stars also do the same. I really wonder why they have kept quiet for so long. They are stars today because of the theatres, OTT is a very recent phenomenon. I want to make films for the cinemas not OTTs and I want Satyameva Jayate to release in a theatre,” he shares. Outlining the significance of the “theatre experience”, Vinod Bhanushali, President of Marketing, Media & Publishing (TV), Music Acquisition of T-Series and co- Producer of T Series Films, says, “When you talk about Bollywood stars and big producers, theatres have been in our system for so many years in India. We have a habit of going to theatres, it’s like a celebration for people. Be it in small towns or big cities as people like watching films with their family. When you go to theatres and watch a comedy sequence with a crowd, you really enjoy that feeling. The big stars and producers are surely missing this part of having their films released on the big screen. They have to definitely explain this to the government but we have to keep in mind the current Covid conditon with amount of cases increasing, it needs to be taken into consideration.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan feels that stars do have a pull and influence and their word will hold a lot of weightage to the concerned bodies in the government.
“In the past also we have seen how when the film industry and by that I mean the actors and filmmakers unites and makes an appeal to the government, it has worked, so why not now,” he asks.