One of the hurdles for the film industry in bouncing back amid COVID-19 has been theatres not opening to their full capacity yet. As most states allowed only a 50 per cent seat reservation, the decisions of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal governments to allow full capacity became a talking point in the last few days. While TN government revoked its decision due to criticism, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision was also slammed by Bharatiya Janata Party’s leader, Member of Parliament and Union Minister of State, Babul Supriyo.
Reacting to a news report on it, Babul Supriyo termed it as ‘another mindless decision’. The singer-politician added that ‘anarchy’ was the only word that he could think of for the move.
Mamata Banerjee had made the announcement of allowing 100 per cent capacity for theatres in West Bengal during the 26th edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival 2021 on video conference. The decision was taken after Eastern India Motion Picture Association had approached with the request.
President of the association, Piya Sengupta had written, "Cinema owners have operated as per rules with 50 per cent occupancy to combat the spread of the disease for the safety of health of cine-goers. However, the cinema hall owners however sustained a huge financial crisis by way of such compliance with the Government directives".
Referring to the TN government's order allowing full capacity in theatres, the statement added, "The cinema hall owners are suffering huge losses as no new banner Bengali/Hindi hints are releasing due to the occupancy restrictions".
Previously, the Tamil Nadu government revoked its order allowing 100 per cent capacity in theatres. This was after the Centre came down heavily on the state government.
"Government of Tamil Nadu order of permitting increase the seating capacity of Cinema/theaters/ multiplexes from existing 50% to 100% is dilution of MHA order. States and UT shall not dilute guidelines issued under DM act in any manner," MHA said in a statement.
"Govt of Tamil Nadu is requested to immediately issue necessary order to bring their Guidelines in line with the MHA guidelines dated 28 December 2020 and inform compliance to this Ministry," the ministry further said.
The TN government had made the provision for the festival Pongal as numerous films like Master are gearing up for release. Its lead star Vijay had met Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, requesting the leeway.