The Probability Of Theatre Occupancy In The New Normal

Dipankar Sarkar

With the recent fall in the number of Covid infected patients, the government across different states of India has decided to reopen the theatres with a limited number of occupancy. The two big films from Bollywood Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi and Kabir Khan’s 83 amongst others will soon march their way into the theatres. One of the biggest production houses in the country, Yashraj Films, will also release its four feature films in theatres. But at the same time, Shoojit Sircar’s Sardar Udham was released on the OTT platform Prime Video on October 15, 2021. So, we can observe that trend or rather the need of releasing a film on digital platforms is still prevalent. So, now the big question that lies ahead for the Indian film industry is whether the viewers will be returning to the theatres after months of getting accustomed to watching films from the comforts of their desired spaces?

First and foremost, I believe, the content of the film should be alluring enough to draw the audiences back to the theatres. The film should be so rich in its storytelling that the audiences are not able to experience the magic on their smart television or laptop screens. To achieve that the film should have an A-list actor and the story of the film should have all the elements of a purely escapist cinema. But at the same time, we can also be optimistic about the fact that by watching so much innovative and engaging regional content in the last few months, the audiences must have developed a taste towards niche cinema. If the story of the film is unique they would prefer to watch it in the theatres. But most likely, this is an ideal situation.

There can also be a possibility that after being stuck in their homes and obeying one restriction after the other, the general public might have become exhausted. So under such circumstances visiting a theatre would provide them respite from their monotonous life. Watching films in the theatres has always been a popular outing for Indian citizens, whether it is on a single screen or multiplexes.

 

Even in Assam according to the new standard operation of procedures theatres can open with fifty per cent occupancy. We have witnessed how a socially relevant Assamese film like Himanshu Prasad Das’s Goru, which was bringing audiences to the theatres, had to pull down from the theatres due to Covid related restrictions. At the same time, the 67th National Award-winning Assamese film Ronuwa: Who Never Surrender (2019) was released directly on the OTT platform Reeldrama. Whereas, filmmakers like Kripal Kalita and Ramen Borah are waiting for their films, Bridge (2019) and Montur Montuh (2021) respectively, to release in the theatres.

So, let us be hopeful that the audiences will return to the theatres soon and help in the economic revival of the Indian film industry, which not only entertains millions of viewers across the world but also provides livelihood to thousands of people.