The Catch-22 Situation


The Catch-22 Situation

Swapnil Bharali | January 30, 2021 21:05 hrs

Guwahati still awaits the reopening of its cinema halls even though the administration has given the go-ahead for the same, albeit with restrictions regarding seating capacity. The big news of the week in this regard was the reopening of a completely refurbished Anuradha Cineplex – the most popular standalone hall in the city with reduced seating capacity from its earlier days.  

Most other halls however remain closed with myriad problems that include massive outstandings to the state electricity department without clearance of which, power supply to these halls will not be restored. 

The issue is somewhat ticklish here as, through the months of lockdown, the halls were not allowed to open and so the fixed electricity charges kept piling up without any avenues of revenue for the halls to pay them. Moreover, the electricity board, sticking to its rules by the letter, has compounded the situation by levying a no-usage of fine of sorts where the halls have now been slapped with additional fines “not using electricity.” The Catch-22 situation just cannot be missed. In the process of this stalemate, many popular halls of the city have had to down their shutters simply because the business of movie projection has been rendered unviable. 

While Anuradha has reopened, it is today a matter of curiosity as to what the hall will be exhibiting by way of movies as there has been no worthwhile movie produced either in Bollywood or Hollywood that can be screened for viewers. 

Moreover, the Over-The-Top (OTT) platform has proved to be a major success with a number of quality productions being streamed right to the TV sets at home and so there is no dearth of quality entertainment when it comes to cinema. The other crunch is the continuing Covid-19 protocol whereby movie halls have to operate at 50% seating capacity; it essentially means a romantic couple seeking to have a movie date at a cinema hall will have to sit one seat apart! Now that is hardly an enticing option.

The solution to the cinema hall stalemate lies in the big-heartedness of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and solely in his personal capacity to waive off an unjustified heavy fine that has been imposed on the cinema hall owners which has proven to be a business busting move. The unfairness of the imposition is there for all to see. Running the halls thereafter, would be on the creative capacities of the hall owners.

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