Maharashtra has been relaxing restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in a graded manner since August. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray last week allowed cinema halls and auditoriums to open their doors to patrons from October 22. Theatres are expected to operate at 50% of the seating capacity post the reopening and may only allow fully-vaccinated people’s entry, reports have said.
Trade and industry insiders have welcomed the decision with open arms, and are now looking to see people come out and revive business. Here's how the head honchos of trade and industry have reacted to the decision.
Ajai Rai (Producer): “As a producer I could wholly empathise with my ilk which was waiting bated breath for theatres in Maharashtra to re-open. Movies being released excluding Maharashtra was like excluding the Taj Mahal from Agra. Made no sense. Thanks to Uday Thackerayji for finally doing the needful.We can start breathing again.”
Sharad Kelkar (Actor): “This is great news for all us Maharashtrians. We are all movie lovers. For me watching movies in theatres is the only way to really enjoy films. I have a few releases pending. Hopefully they will reach theatres now. We all are waiting to watch Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi in theatres. So this is great news for Diwali. All thanks to Udhav Thackeray Sir.He has taken a big step and one that is beneficial to our film industry.And thanks to Rohit Shetty Sir and Jayantilal Gadha Sir who went and met Uddhav Thackeray Sir and convinced him. Looking forward to going back into the theatre.”
Taran Adarsh (Trade Expert): “Wonderful development. The revival of the film business has begun. Maharashtra alone contributes 35% of all India business and the reopening of cinemas has rejuvenated all - the production, distribution and exhibition sectors. With Sooryavanshi arriving this Diwali, expect more announcements in the coming days.”
Suneel Darshan (Producer-Director): “With aggressive dual vaccination in Maharashtra, the cautious and calculated reopening of the cinema screens will invite a positive response only if the Exhibition sector woos the audiences with attractive Movies in consensus with the Production sector and avoids the high-handed authoritative approach, leading to a win-win situation for all parties... This will now lead to pan-India releases of the big-budget movies that are awaiting the unlocking.”
Girish Johar (Producer, Trade Expert): “This is really great news. I am personally very upbeat and gung-ho about this. So happy that this Diwali the Box Office will celebrate with films. With a cautious approach the audiences will also come back, faster vaccination will boost the consumers’ confidence and the overall machinery will start to roll again.Hope and pray that like the South and Punjabi Box Office Hindi films too will churn out good numbers and with the help of English films and local language films... the business cycle of movie starts again.”
Atul Mohan (Trade Expert): “Fantastic news finally.We all were waiting impatiently for this. Because we all know in the trade that unless Mumbai and Maharashtra opens up, business of Hindi films and Hollywood films is bound to be impacted and no producer would want to take risk of ignoring this big market. We have seen how the collections of recent releases were affected due to closure of theatres in Maharashtra, and that was the reason why no other film announced its release date. Also with the opening of cinemas comes the big news of Sooryavanshi releasing, a perfect film to attract audience back to the cinemas.”
Anees Bazmi (Director): “I think it was much needed. Since the government has controlled the pandemic situation very well in Maharashtra this seems like a good next step toward normalcy. Finally many of my director and producer friends' projects can be out now in theatres which many people have been waiting for, including my own, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2.”
Amod Mehra (Trade Expert): “Keeping fingers crossed. October 22 is still nearly four weeks away.. God willing if things don't deteriorate then the film industry will see happy days here again.”
Anand Pandit (Producer): “It is absolutely wonderful news that cinemas will be reopening in Maharashtra ahead of Diwali. We have been waiting for this and I am glad that the Govt in its wisdom decided to reopen theatres. Yes, it will be a big screen Diwali and hopefully will be a blockbuster one. The industry needs this revival and given that Maharashtra is one of the biggest markets, we hope to see the return of audiences to the theatres. What better time to start than Diwali! I honestly don't see too many clashes given that the industry understands that the return of audiences might be slow and it would be best to avoid a situation where the audience's worth gets divided.”
Shaailesh R Singh (Producer): “It’s good news for producers, exhibitors and audiences.We have all been waiting for this.”
Akshay Rathi (Exhibitor): “It’s come a bit late. But we are all very happy that movie theatres in Maharashtra and Mumbai are now being allowed to operate again. Maharashtra contributes a sizable chunk to the Box Office collections. Therefore releasing films in India excluding Maharashtra was unfeasible for most producers. With this announcement, Sooryavanshi has already been scheduled for Diwali. And I’m sure we will see many more release announcements soon. We should be thankful to all the producers, exhibitors and the audience who waited patiently for the magic of the movies to be revived.”
Image source: unsplash