Gaiety-Galaxy owner Manoj Desai: Around 20 employees have quit since March
Amid buzz that cinemas may reopen next month, Gaiety-Galaxy owner rues shutdown has compelled staff to look for other opportunities.
In his 47 years of being in the business, Manoj Desai says the exhibition sector has never witnessed a bleaker period. With cinemas across the country having downed their shutters for over six months, exhibitors have had to resort to pay cuts and layoffs as the balance sheet remains in the red. Desai, executive director of Gaiety-Galaxy, one of Mumbai's popular theatres, says several employees have tendered their resignation after having waited for months on end for the business to kickstart again.
"I haven't laid off my staff, but around 20 employees — including operators, doorkeepers and ushers — have quit since March. They feel theatres may not open for a long time. I cannot stop them because they must have got some other opportunity," he says.
With open-air theatres allowed to operate from September 21, rumours suggest that Unlock 5.0 will see the government finally greenlight the reopening of cinemas.
However, with less than a fortnight to go, Desai says the exhibition sector has not been intimated of any development yet. "If theatres are to open by October, we have to be prepared. By now, we should have got the notification, with the guidelines in place," he says, noting that the seating capacity may become a bone of contention. "I have about 1,000 seats each in Gaiety, Galaxy and Maratha Mandir. If they want us to fill only 300 seats, it will be difficult. Throughout the shutdown, we have paid property tax, BMC tax, electricity bills and salaries in rotation. It has put us under tremendous financial pressure."
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