The Telangana government is in no hurry to open either cinema theatres or allow film or TV serial shooting to resume in a hurry. T S Sudhir of Filter Kaapi Live spoke to Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Cinematography minister of Telangana.
T S Sudhir : With the realisation dawning that we have to learn to live with Covid-19, what is the government’s thinking on reopening of cinema theatres?
T Srinivas Yadav : Not now. It will be a problem if we open now. Moreover, even if we open, I do not think the public is in the mood to go and watch movies. They will be scared. So no one will come to the cinema halls. Also seating order will have to change to maintain social distancing.
Sudhir : Have you discussed all that needs to be done with the exhibitors?
Yadav : Yes. While multiplexes may still be able to undertake the changes within the cinema hall, the smaller theatres especially in the districts will not have the funds to do so. So as of today, we are not in favour of reopening theatres for another 2-3 months. And it is not just the mind of the government. Even the exhibitors are not on the same page. While some want operations to resume with restrictions, others favour waiting for a while. It is a divided house.
Sudhir : Close to a dozen Telugu movies are stuck at the post-production stage or the last stage of shooting with a few days work pending. Producers want permission to be given to enable them to finish the work so that the movies are ready for release by the time the theatres are allowed to open. Is the government willing to grant permission?
Yadav : Yes they are asking for permission. We will have to take a call on it. Even Television serial makers have asked for permission saying they will shoot only indoors with limited crew. But we have asked them to wait because ultimately the light boys, the drivers, crew have to travel from different parts of the city to the shooting spot. How do you ensure no one is Covid positive? It will be a risk.
Sudhir : Most filmmakers are worried about their money being stuck. Exhibitors are worried that the OTT platforms will eat into their business by screening even new releases. That trend has already begun.
Yadav : Yes, they are worried about the OTT factor. But I believe that even if a movie releases after three months, they will be able to recover. I give you the example of the August 2007 blast at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat in Hyderabad. Initially there was fear about going to these two popular places but look now, both places are always crowded. We need to give this similar time.