Cinemas to resume after intermission?

Updated: May 08, 2020, 10:40 IST | Mohar Basu | Mumbai

As green zones open up across the country, multiplex chains are in talks with a portable theatre company to screen films in small towns.

The portable theatre installed in a town;
The portable theatre installed in a town;

As the country entered its third round of lockdown extension earlier this week, the government relaxed certain restrictions in the areas identified as green zones. This has sparked a conversation in the exhibition sector that the theatrical screening of films, with adequate precautionary measures in place, may be resumed in the near future in these areas. But, of the 300 districts designated as green zones, 240 do not have theatres. In such a scenario, leading multiplex chains appear to have turned to PictureTime Digiplex, a portable theatre company, to revive the cinema-going practice.

"Even a leading chain like PVR has theatres in only 68 towns. In such a scenario, they would want to reach out to the green zones as soon as possible. So, our portable theatres will be required more than ever, and we can set up about 25 new ones in a month. We are in talks with two of the three leading multiplex chains," says Sushil Chaudhary, MD and CEO, PictureTime Digiplex, presumably referring to PVR, Inox and Cinemax.

 Sushil Chaudhary
Sushil Chaudhary

Chaudhary adds that actor-director Satish Kaushik is exploring the possibility of releasing his next, Kaagaz, through this model. "He called me to understand if the film could be released via our theatres. He believes that the film, owing to its theme, needs to be in theatres to make an impact. I am in talks with state agencies and am considering starting the portable theatres by mid-June."

Satish Kaushik
Satish Kaushik

If given the green-light to function, the portable theatres will have to adopt several safety measures. "No rules have been laid out yet in order to start cinema in green zones, but we have started preparing for the same. We are planning a sanitisation tunnel, where the audience will be sanitised, and their temperatures checked. The seats will also be spaced out with dividers in between, in keeping with the practice of social distancing."

Satish Kaushik, who is incidentally also Advisor & Partner of Picture Time, says, "I think Picture Time will great solution for cinema entertainment as this mobile theatre reaches people or the viewer instead of viewer going to the theatre. It will run on the low capacity, air-conditioned, 5.1 digital sound and absolutely sanitised with all safety precautions of social distancing and contactless digital ticketing etc. We have so many green zones in the country where there are no theatres and Picture Time will be ready in just 2.5 hours anywhere in open space to show movies to the viewers. Mr Sushil Chaudhary and his team are working hard to give a great cinematic experience to cinema loving people in virus-free zones."

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