Houseful: Theatres see patrons after more than 18 months


Finally after over 18 months, films are running to packed theatres at least during the weekend, much to the relief of proprietors and the film industry.

Many expressed hope that it was a sign of the beleaguered industry finally picking up. Two Kannada films starring marquee names, Kotigobba 3 with Sudeep, and Salaga starring Duniya Vijay hit the screens on Friday. They are running to packed houses not just in Bengaluru but across the State.

“It had been a year and a half since we saw a ‘houseful’ board in front of our theatres. It is such an exhilarating experience to see it again. Not just in Bengaluru, even in other centres most theatres are running to full house. Both Kannada films released seem to be hits and will occupy theatres for the next three weeks,” said K.V. Chandrashekhar, president, Karnataka Film Exhibitors’ Association.

With the number of COVID-19 cases reported from the State daily hovering below 500 for several weeks now, many film buffs made their maiden trip to the theatre over the weekend, their first since the pandemic broke out in March 2020. “While we used to watch at least a movie a week, we did not go to a theatre for the last 18 months. We finally decided to end this dry spell, and watched No Time to Die this week,” said Rakesh Kumar, software engineer and resident of Marathahalli.

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While being away from theatres for so many months may have pushed film buffs back to the big screen, COVID-19 safety protocols that have been put in place are also inspiring confidence among patrons. “We were asked for vaccination certificates and those who could not furnish them were not allowed in. Theatres are also insisting that everyone wear masks,” said Sandeep K. from Bengaluru.

Mr. Chandrashekhar said theatres are sanitising screening halls after every show, as per the guidelines issued by the State Government.

With the audience response being cheerful, the industry is preparing for a long line of big releases. These include Vikram Rana starring Sudeep and Bhajarangi 2 with Shivarajkumar in Kannada. The multi-starrer Suryavamshi with Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, and Ranveer Singh is also expected to draw in crowds.

However, all hopes are now pinned on Rajinikanth’s Annaatthe slated for a Deepawali release in November first week. “A Rajinikanth film is a big event even during normal times. We hope it brings the audience back to the theatres in droves,” said a senior executive at one of the multiplex chains.

“Theatres in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra still have 50% occupancy restriction, which needs to be lifted for the film industry to return to normalcy. Once that is done, there will likely be a glut of films at the theatres,” he said.



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Sagar Biswas

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