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State cinema halls await health department SOP before reopening

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Oct 15 - Notwithstanding the order issued by the Central government for cinema halls to reopen from October 15, film buffs of Assam may have to wait for another week or two to enjoy a film in a nearby hall as the State health department is yet to issue a standard operating procedure (SOP) in this regard.

According to a source, the health department has already formulated the SOP and will issue the same by Friday evening. Meanwhile, cinema hall owners of the State said that after getting the SOP they would need some time to implement it. First they will conduct an online meeting to discuss the same.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Chinmoy Sarma, owner of Anuradha Cineplex Guwahati said, �We have to discuss every point of the SOP before opening our cinema halls. Because, someone may not be able to fulfil some of the points mentioned in the SOP. In that case we will have to again contact the department concerned. Moreover, after discussing the SOP, we will conduct meetings with distributors to start screening films.�

Sarma informed that on Wednesday evening he got permission to reopen his cinema hall from the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA). According to the permission, a cinema hall can start operating by accommodating 50 per cent audience against its total capacity in a show by following the SOP of the health department.

He also stated that as a number of states are yet to allow operation of cinema halls under their respective territories, so there is little chance of release of any new big budget film in the near future.

Meanwhile, film content provider UFO Moviez India general manager (Sales and Distribution) Sourav Dutta informed that after reopening, most cinema halls of Assam will run previously released films like Chhichhore, Tanhaji, Angrezi Medium, etc.

Assam has 78 cinema halls and all of those have remained closed since March 15 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the State. Chinmoy Sarma asserted that every cinema hall incurred a loss of minimum Rs 2 lakh every month amid the lockdown.

It is noteworthy that without release of any big budget commercial film, it is not easy to bring back normalcy to the cinema hall business in the State. Sarma also informed that a number of Assamese films are in the pipeline for theatrical release, but every producer is waiting for a big budget film so that the business gets a boost.

Even Sourav Dutta favours allowing 100 per cent audience in the cinema halls of Assam. �If a public bus can run with 100 per cent passengers, then why can�t a cinema hall run with 100 per cent audience,� he argued.

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