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Thursday, Oct 22, 2020 13:30 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Oct 22, 2020 07:54 [IST]

The lure of the silver screen

When the coronavirus pandemic began to spread in India and a lockdown seemed imminent, movie theatres were among the first places to be closed down, and are among the last to reopen.

In September, Multiplex Association of India (MAI) ran the #UnlockCinemaSaveJobs campaign on Twitter, along with full page ads in major dailies, appealing to the government to save jobs. The MAI argued that more than 2 lakh jobs were at stake and that the movie exhibition sector had suffered an estimated rupees 9,000 crore in losses.

India has been gradually easing restrictions since June, but it was only in early October that cinema halls were given the go-ahead to reopen from 15 October, with a number of Covid-safety protocols to be followed.

Halls must fill no more than half their seats and be kept duly sanitized, among other things, while their patrons must wear masks and not treat film intervals as occasions to swarm refreshment counters and washroom facilities. All this makes corona sense. The behaviour of Indian cinema-goers, though, will be under the watch not only of security personnel, presumably, but also an entire industry keen to identify the post-pandemic new normal of on-screen entertainment. Over-the-top platforms—such as Netflix, Disney-Hotstar and Amazon Prime—have fared predictably well in the seven odd months that big screens were forced to go on the blink by a tiny virus. Some of us seem won over for life by their wide choice of assorted fare streamed affordably and instantly onto handsets, laptops and TV panels. Yet, for many, the wait for good old theatres to reopen, as they finally did as part of Unlock 5.0, must have felt eternal. This may have something to do with the unique paradox of a cinema theatre’s charm, an appeal that grew especially salient during the hiatus.

The allure of a theatre visit, however, should not eclipse what else it could expose us to. Think Covid-19. Even if people are seated well apart, the risk of airborne infection in a closed space goes up more than proportionally by the audience size and time spent. That is reason enough to stay away.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi