Friday, January 15, 2021

‘Action!’ for Indian cinemas, reopening even as Covid-19 gallops ahead

World's most popular cinema about to reopen with audiences limited to 50%.

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Cinemas will reopen in India after months in Covid-19 lockdown, the home affairs ministry said on Wednesday.

This relaxation of lockdown comes even as experts warn that India is heading to become the world’s most infected country by overtaking the US.

Cinemas in the film-obsessed country will be permitted to reopen in a phased manner, limited to 50% of seating capacity.

Film industry representatives in Bollywood warned in May it would take at least two years for them to recover financially from the pandemic, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk.

Before the pandemic, India made nearly 1,800 films a year in several languages. The famous Bollywood is the Hindi language film-making centre.

Productions have been hit all across the country by the pandemic and the lockdowns that followed. It is hoped the re-opening of cinemas will encourage film production to resume at a reduced level.

Recent estimates show that before Covid-19 India ranked first in terms of annual film output, followed by Nigeria, Hollywood and China.

Indian cinema is a worldwide audience-puller, regularly selling over 3.5 billion tickets worldwide, 900,000 more than Hollywood.

Since the start of the pandemic, around 9,500 cinemas in India have been shut down, throwing thousands out of work.

The government is encouraging states to gradually restart public activities in a phased manner to salvage an economy badly battered by the lockdown, with millions of people, particularly the poor, losing their livelihoods.

India has reported nearly 80,500 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking its tally to 6.23 million, government data showed.

Deaths from Covid-19 are fast approaching 100,000.

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