Cinema halls Ananda and Chanda penalised for running during pandemic; owners distraught
The status quo of the government regarding the operational rules for cinema halls remains dubious. As a result, about 110 cinema halls were opened during last Eid-Ul-Fitr. However, the local administration closed many cinemas during the second wave of Covid-19. Thus, hall owners in the capital are suffering huge losses.
The mobile court has imposed a penalty of BDT 10,000 to the authorities of the halls Ananda and Chanda, as they kept screening movies for the local audience. As a result, many other halls, including Modhumita, are yet to open for the audience. Nevertheless, Star Cineplex, Blockbuster Cinemas located in Dhaka are now open.
"We have not received any declaration by the government for keeping the halls closed. Thus, they were operational," says Mohammad Shamshuddin, the general manager of the movie theatres Ananda and Chanda. "We have a combined capacity of over 1,400 seats, and we had allowed 50-70 individuals on average for each show. This shows that we have been maintaining all safety precautions."
According to him, the surrounding areas of the cinema halls have already gained their normal appearance. "Here in Farmgate, a musical mahfil is held almost everyday in front of Ananda Cinema Hall, where more than 50 people participate. The buses at the Farmgate stops are also seldom following any precautions. I am still trying to comprehend the reason for being fined," he adds.
Almost all the local cinema halls are suffering the same consequences in the pandemic. The daily expense of keeping a hall open for a day is reportedly BDT 24,000, and keeping up with these expenses are becoming extremely difficult, mentions Shamshuddin.
"We have to pay taxes, salaries, and utilities, and even last week our electricity was cut off, as we had failed to pay bills in due time," he informs. "One of our workers had visited me last week and I still remember his words. He had said: Tell me where I can sell my kidney, it seems like it's the only way to pay my due house rent, utility bills, and other such monthly charges that have been piling up for over a year now."
On the contrary, Star Cineplex has been operational since the government announced that markets can be open. "Previously, we had stopped film screenings when the government had declared a lockdown, but we have not received any notice or declaration this time," says Mesbah Uddin Ahmed, the marketing officer of Star Cineplex. "As per my knowledge, all the movie theatre's have been operational for a while now. Thus, we decided to remain open while strictly complying with the safety regulations for our shows."
Translated by Ashley Shoptorshi Samaddar