The Maharashtra government has extended the lockdown in the state till November 30 with no further relaxations.
For exhibitors in the state who have lost crores of rupees in the eight months of theatre shutdown, the move spells doom as Diwali is the most profitable period for the business. Manoj Desai, executive director of G7 multiplex in Bandra, says, “Our business shoots up during this period, but it’s a black Diwali this year. I have eight theatres standing, but in reality, we are broke.” Akshaye Rathi, who owns cinemas in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, notes that the exhibition and distribution sector had earned R250 crore last Diwali owing to the three festival releases — ‘Housefull 4’, ‘Saand Ki Aankh’ and ‘Made in China’. As another bleak month awaits him this year, he has no option but to let go of his staff. Rathi indicates that discrimination against movie halls is unfair.
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The decision is bound to spark a chain reaction across the country — with Maharashtra being the biggest market, other filmmakers are likely to hold off the release of their upcoming offerings, thus leaving theatre owners in other states devoid of new releases.
Let’s see when the theatres will open in Maharashtra.