Instead of physical checking, a staff member at Cinepolis, at the Savitri Complex in Greater Kailash-II, geared up in a mask, face shield and gloves, asked if the person had any of the prohibited items listed on a board.
From the time one steps into the building and enters the cinema hall, the numerous ‘welcome back’ posters that are spread all over the complex signal how eagerly multiplexes have been waiting to reopen. On Thursday, as cinema halls opened after six months, viewers were greeted with new protocols — social distancing circles, thermal checks and hand sanitiser stands.
Instead of physical checking, a staff member at Cinepolis, at the Savitri Complex in Greater Kailash-II, geared up in a mask, face shield and gloves, asked if the person had any of the prohibited items listed on a board. In the lobby, people sat on alternate chairs — which had been marked with stickers — until the screening began.
Among the five-six people who had come to Cinepolis — one of the few halls screening films on Thursday — was Ghaziabad resident Karan Tyagi. “I desperately wanted to watch a movie in a hall, something I did regularly before the lockdown. The hall near my home (a PVR hall) opens on Friday, so I decided to come here,” said the 30-year-old.
Watching a movie on the big screen was an “escape” from his stressful life, he said, as he had recently lost his job at a company in Gurgaon. For the afternoon show, at 2.30 pm, the hall was screening the Taapsee Pannu-starrer Thappad, which had released on February 28 and was one of the last movies to be screened in halls before the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24.
Producers have re-released a select few movies from earlier this year, which includes 1917, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Malang, among others. “We had three shows planned for Thursday. In the morning, we screened Malang, which saw about three to four people in the audience, while Thappad had about six people. The evening show has about 12 bookings till now,” said a staff member.
All the staff members The Indian Express spoke to said they were happy to return to work and it felt like “homecoming”. They had spent the last six months training for the new protocols for reopening.
The food menu was limited to popcorn, nachos and soft drinks, and there was a plastic shield at the two cash counters. The modes of payment at this hall were through card or cash and the bill was sent digitally on the customer’s phone number. Inside the hall, seating capacity was reduced by 50% and every alternate seat had been marked with a tape, making them unavailable for people to sit on and maintain physical distance.
Rajiv Pathak (40), who had gotten off work early Thursday, decided to watch a movie as he was curious about the new protocols. “I wanted to experience how safe the viewing experience is so I could come with my family next time,” said Pathak, a resident of Govindpuri.
For banker Atul Singh Rawat (23), going for a movie was a weekly ritual, irrespective of the reviews it received. However, he is now going to be choosy.
“I have come today just to celebrate my friend’s birthday, and also because the ticket was priced at Rs 100, which is almost half the usual price. Otherwise, I think most of us have moved to streaming services and learnt to entertain ourselves at home. If I come again, it will only be for a big release,” he said.
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