'Around 30 people in the first show for Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari,' says mid-day reader

Updated: 16 November, 2020 08:09 IST | Uma Ramasubramanian | Mumbai

As Mumbai cinemas reopen after eight months, mid-day reader Vijay Shah gives a first-hand account of watching Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari at Gaiety

Shah is attended to by the staff, in masks and gloves, at the theatre's refreshment counter
Shah is attended to by the staff, in masks and gloves, at the theatre's refreshment counter

Watching a film at Gaiety has been my weekly ritual since 1972 when I was a school boy. So, one can imagine how hard the theatre shutdown was on a cinephile like me. As the Bandra theatre opened its doors on Sunday, I went to catch the first day, first show of Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari. Before the pandemic, if you headed to Gaiety on a Sunday, you were bound to see the 'Housefull' signboard hanging well before a show would commence. Yet, today, there were around 25 to 30 people in the first show.

The theatre sees low footfall on the first day;
The theatre sees low footfall on the first day;

The implementation of safety norms began right at the entrance of the theatre — our temperature was checked before we were allowed inside. Elevators were shut to avoid crowding; we took the stairs while maintaining one-arm distance. We had to use hand sanitiser before stepping inside the auditorium, where alternate seating was employed as per the state government's guidelines. One could feel the mood in the auditorium lift as soon as the opening credits rolled on the screen; there were a few stray hoots and claps. While we had to mandatorily wear masks during the show, a staff member made rounds to check whether the rules were being followed.

Also Read: Bollywood box-office awaits a big opening; only 10 per cent occupancy

Spots have been marked near the refreshment counter to enable social distancing
Spots have been marked near the refreshment counter to enable social distancing

Any Gaiety regular will tell you how people flock to the refreshment counter during the intermission to have the samosas that have become as iconic as the theatre itself. However, in the new normal, we had to stand at the designated spots while the canteen staff — wearing masks, face shields and gloves — handed our food to us. Since the new rule bars the audience from carrying their food inside, we had to stay put in our spots in the refreshment area and have our meal before heading back for the second half.

Vijay Shah
Vijay Shah

After the show ended, the staff began sanitising the auditorium as we exited the area. It was surreal to see only few people at the theatre. Once the Khans and Kumars are back on the screen, I hope the audiences will enthusiastically return to the cinemas.

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First Published: 16 November, 2020 07:12 IST

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