Is Film Industry in SHAMBLES?

Friday morning. First day, first show. After waiting for months, the movie finally got released. I called up Udit to ask him when he will reach. I stood in the queue for two large tubs of popcorn and 2 large drinks. After all, it’s just unthinkable to watch a movie without some munchies to ruminate. He arrived exactly 3 minutes late. Infuriated, we took our seats and watched the entire movie in silence. At the end, I just said to him, “I will never ever watch a movie with you.”

Four months has passed by since then. I still regret to utter those words to him. Will we ever be able to enjoy going to the cinema halls? Maybe yes, but it won’t be the same again.

Coronavirus: India film industry could take two years to recover ...

One of the most lucrative and labor intensive industry, the film industry had to suffer a huge blow due to this pandemic. Big releases such as Sooryavansham, Pahwa, 83 and other such big banner movies got postponed owing to the commencement of lockdown. Shootings have been halted since Modi declared the lockdown and is still in process. Shutters are still down for cinema halls, malls and other small theatres, at least in India. Movies which were progressing at the time the lockdown was declared had to be stopped in the middle. Film industry is just a cost effective and cost intensive business that such a blow like this have seriously crippled not only the major stakeholders but also the daily wagers, contractual workers and the shift workers. And considering the fact that Indian economy is in shambles now, it is least likely that consumers will show high interest in visiting theater, let alone trying to meet ends.

India is a highly populated country where according to Malthusian theory, our food production follows arithmetic progression and our population follows geometric progression. No doubt, the only factor that has forever been booming in India is the population and today that is creating chaos. Our film industry employs actor, directors, producers, screen-writers and various major stakeholders but the majority of people in the set are the daily wagers, contractual workers and the shift workers. This lockdown had taken away their jobs and they are trying to thrive on their savings which is also dwindling. Major concern is faced by the small banners because they feel that let alone big banners, small banner movies have very less chance to appear in the multiplexes owing to such large investments in location, travel, casting, sets and so on and so forth. Recent study says that the film industry is going to be reopened at the last because the last thing most consumers would want is to go to halls, surpassing all the barriers of hygiene and sit and watch movies.

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But whatever be the situation, I personally feel that the lockdown will be a great chance to reform the current scenario of our film industry. Firstly, due to major cash crunch and dwindling economy, producers will actually give a lot of thought before producing those B-rated, mindless, long and illogical movies. They will actually need to sit, write down a script keeping in mind the consumers’ current economic and needs scenario. Secondly, this is a great opportunity for the complete digitization of the industry. OTT platforms such as Amazon Prime video, Hotstar+Disney and Netflix should take the front seat in driving this lucrative business. Consumers have already switched to this relaxing mode of entertainment and they have adapted to this new normal. There has been a huge spike in the monthly and annual subscriptions for these platforms. This is particularly a great news for the small banner films because they can focus on producing movies having very strong, powerful and meaningful content and if the total investment is less than 5 crores, OTT platforms can buy those movie to create hype among the consumers. Lockdown will surely be the best thing for consumers who are particularly interested in watching meaningful movies devoid of any nepotistic characters. And thirdly, and this especially go out for the those cohorts who spend huge amounts in this sector, it is a great opportunity for them to curb on their spending costs and shift towards the more safe and indoor means of entertainment.

But whatever be the situation, the film industry will suffer a huge blow and there are no sign of restoration of releases or shooting till the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021. A lot of modifications needs to be done both in the films sets as well as multiplexes. A few suggestions for multiplexes include limiting the sell of tickets, monitoring the queues at washrooms and food counters, sitting while still maintaining the social distancing and especially modification needs to be made to allow 4 entry and exit points. There are movie-buffs and who will definitely go to watch movies on screens and the film industry should try to target such cohorts.

After all we all know that human beings are social animals and they will definitely return, today or tomorrow.