Producer Ronnie Screwvala took to Twitter on Sunday and criticised the recent spate of Hindi film announcements.
In his tweet, he observed that it is “funny (hysterical)” that people think it is safe to “go to the movie” and that there is no such thing as “herd immunity”.
“Funny (Hysterical) that everyone announcing Movie release dates like magically all back to normal! FOMO in announcements and theoretical discussions on ‘clashes’. personally cant see till 300Mill vaccinated that it’s really safe to ‘GoToTheMovies’,” wrote Screwvala.
Retweeting this, filmmaker Hansal Mehta wondered what prompted the sudden overflow of announcements.
I agree. Wonder what prompted this spate of announcements? https://t.co/NodP48bXLD
— Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) February 21, 2021
While some on Twitter agreed to the producer, film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi voiced his opinion against Screwvala and reminded him that “the exhibition sector employs over 4 lakh Indians directly & millions of others indirect”. He wrote that the country’s film exhibition sector can only be revived if there’s a constant flow of movies.
Talking to Silverscreen India, Rathi said that over the past year, lakhs of people employed by the exhibition sector have suffered due to loss of employment. It was, thus, critical for the entertainment sector to be allowed to function normally, he said.
“There are many people who are directly and indirectly employed by exhibition sector and all have suffered losses during this last year. Now with the economy opening up and the vaccination drives rapidly underway across the country, it’s important that every citizen is allowed to earn. Specifically, since this sector has not received any financial or policy-related support from the state or Central government,” Rathi said.
“I’m really glad that films are starting to release because people can finally again earn their salaries out of it,” he said.
Talking about safety in theatres, Rathi said that theatres are more safer than grocery shops or restaurants.
“In cinema halls, while you are inside you don’t need to take off your masks. And because it is a controlled environment, ushers can warn people who don’t follow the safety regulations. If you look at it, around the world since the pandemic started you may not have heard cinema halls being breeding grounds or influence the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, going to a theatre is considered a high-risk activity. Earlier, Srividya, state epidemiologist, Directorate of Health, Puducherry, had told Silverscreen India that no health worker will recommend anyone to visit a theatre with full occupancy.
Last week, Yash Raj Films announced its slate of movies for 2021, while several other films like Akshay Kumar‘s Atrangi Re, Bell Bottom, Ranveer Singh’s 83, Sidharth Malhotra‘s Shershaah, have announced their release dates. Along with the announcements it was confirmed that RRR and Maidaan will be clashing at the cinemas while Shershaah will clash with Major, backed by Mahesh Babu.
These clashes, however, Rathi felt may not be a bad thing.
“It is certainly not ideal for two or three films of the same genre to release on the same day, but if a rom-com and action-adventure releases together, then it would make sense. It is important for different genres of films to all be in the theatre in order to cater to different needs,” he said.