With Low Bookings And Cancelled Screenings, What’s The Way Ahead For The Movie Theatres And Films Amid COVID?

Even though Roohi did release in theatres, will films make a full come back in all its glory as the third wave of COVID looms over our head?

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With Low Bookings And Cancelled Screenings, What’s The Way Ahead For The Movie Theatres And Films Amid COVID?
On Wednesday evening I  drove down to a multiplex in Patna for my screening of  Roohi, a movie about spooks, ghosts and chaudails. Aptly the mall looked like a ghost town. The liftman Braj whom  I  was seeing after a  year was happy to see me. “Sir,aap bina screening  ke kaise reh gaye ek saal?” he asked.

Good question. The choice was and continues to be, between braving the COVID and watching films at home.  Much as I  prefer watching my films on the big screen I’d rather live and watch them at home. At the same time, the temptation to return to the movie theatres was great. So there I  was with my friend and another couple who have always been a part of all my screenings.

For more than two hours  I forgot COVID. That’s the magic of the movie theatre. It transports you to another world, carries you away into its own universe, makes you impervious of the real world.  How can we experience the same joy and magic watching a film on the computer or, worse, on the phone?

What relevance would Pakeezah or  Devdas or even Roohi have on a phone screen?

Pulling me back to reality was the information that awaited me at home after I was swathed in joy for two hours. The producers of this week’s other release Time To Dance had decided to cancel their press screenings given the rising COVID cases in Maharashtra. Sooryavanshi won’t release on April 2 either. But Sanjay Gupta’s Mumbai Saga is still on next week even as a new wave of COVID hits humanity.

Mumbai, you might as well know, has another saga to tell. My dear friend Sanjay Bhansali has been hit by the virus. I  don’t know what I  can do to make him feel better,  except send him his favourite Lata Mangeshkar songs every day. They are working better than any medicine for COVID. I am convinced more than ever that Lataji is therapeutic. She doesn’t agree with me, though. She thinks social distancing works better than her songs. Little does she know.

For all of us who had hoped that 2021 would fix the damage done in 2020, the writing is clear on the silver screen. COVID is here to stay. Deal with it. Return to the movie theatre at your own risk. I have.  Wish me luck.

Image source: IMDb