After intermission: Cinema halls in Delhi roll out the carpet post COVID-lockdown

A variety of screening options and an advanced air-filtration systems will greet first-day moviegoers in Delhi today.
A worker wearing PPE kit sanitises a cinema hall as multiplexes prepare to re-open from October 15. (Photo| PTI)
A worker wearing PPE kit sanitises a cinema hall as multiplexes prepare to re-open from October 15. (Photo| PTI)

As the government SOPs have been set and the newly demanded requirements met, Delhi cinemas are ready to  roll out the red carpet today. Here’s what’s waiting for watchers of cinema:

Show and tell
Showcasing a medley of earlier releases, theatre companies are hoping to attract a cross section of demographics to return to the halls, after spending more than six months watching releases on their TVs at home. It’s not like there are a lot of new releases currently anyway.

"We will be gradually opening our multiplexes as per operational readiness. Our shows will be programmed in such a manner that there are no simultaneous entries, intermissions and exits," says Alok Tandon, CEO, INOX Leisure Ltd, adding, "We are also looking to innovate with private screenings, where families or smaller groups of guests can book the entire auditorium and enjoy the content of their choice."

Speaking about the initial screening schedule, Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas said, "Currently, the focus is on building consumer confidence and following the guidelines laid down by the MHA. We are optimistic that we will emerge out of this stronger and more robust. The screening pipeline looks promising and we are working very hard to bring the most exciting content to our patrons in the following weeks."

Among the Hindi films are the likes of Tanhaji, Chhichhore, Shubh Mangal Jyada Saavdhan, Dream Girl, Malang, Thappad, and Mission Mangal, while English re-releases include Bloodshot, Lion King, Ford Vs Ferrari, Parasite, and Knives Out. So even if it’s the first day, it’s definitely not the first show.

PVR theatres will open with a self-professed ‘Evangelism’ phase where people would have the opportunity to experience the enhanced safety features undertaken by the cinemas first-hand. This phase will involve several goodwill screenings for the company’s employees, health workers, and police force and their families, who then would later act as evangelists for the brand, according to the brand. Amen to that.

Breathe easy

Cinemagoers who do brave the grave outdoors can rest assured that once they enter the halls they are safe at least. "People who visit cinemas can breathe a sigh of relief," says Himanshu Agarwal, Founder & CEO, Magneto CleanTech, speaking of the advanced air filtration systems that his company has installed at PVR cinemas, and is in talks with other cinemas.

"Earlier everyone used to just concentrate on air pollution and factors like PM 2.5, but we were the first company in India to also tackle airborne infections. Our systems, introduced first in 2015, took this into account and used a suite of technologies, including UV light scans, to ensure air quality in as much as is possible," says Agarwal, mentioning that Magneto actually has a patent for this technology, and has applied for two additional ones in air filtration since.

"India has been an epicentre of TB for years now, which is a slower, yet still deadly, killer, which is how we would come to think up of tech to fight it," recalls Agarwal.

Since the advent of COVID-19, Agarwal and his team have been consulted by both Indian and international groups on how to best utilise their technology. “We have been in constant consultation with PVR cinemas as they have readied to open, and are now in talks with other similar concerns,” assures Agarwal.

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The New Indian Express