Throughout the years, major films have hit cinema theatres around the time of Eid-Ul-Azha, one of the biggest festivals of the country. Sadly, 2020 has no good news for moviegoers. Even though several directors and producers resumed and completed shooting for their films and went into post-production after reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, cinema theatre owners have not received any official permission from the government to restart their businesses yet. With theatres shut, the future of the film industry remains uncertain.
At one point, OTT platforms like Hoichoi and Bongo BD were in talks with a few producers about the digital premieres of their films. However, no positive results came out of those discussions. More often than not, the kind of film offers that the platforms received were not compatible with their vision. As a result, they were rejected right away. These sites are now premiering some classic movies, based on the price and the response of the test audience.
Although single-screen theatres were steadily going out of fashion even before the coronavirus outbreak, some of the biggest and most popular halls may not reopen at all, after this ordeal ends. Multiplexes, on the other hand, may introduce some operational changes, but not anytime soon. Needless to say, the pandemic has harshly affected the film industry.
Two films, Holudboni and Amar Maa, produced by television channels, are the only new releases this Eid. Holudboni is set to air on Channel i, while Amar Maa will be televised on ATN Bangla.
Holudboni was released in two theatres on March 6. However, its screenings were shut, once the pandemic hit the country. The film, featuring Nusrat Imrose Tisha, Paoli Dam and Parambrata Chatterjee is produced by Impress Telefilm (Bangladesh) and Telecine (India). It is jointly directed by Bangladeshi director Taher Shipon and Mukul Roy Chowdhury from India. Amar Maa, starring D A Tayeb, Anwara and Bobby among others, is directed by Shahriar Nazim Joy.
A number of films have been released on OTT platforms in our neighbouring country, India, and their audiences have welcomed this move quite enthusiastically. Sadly, the scenario is different in the case of Bangladesh. Streaming platforms, thinking purely from a business standpoint, are not willing to take risks with the majority of our films. Paap Punno, Hawa, Unoponchash Batash, Mission Extreme and Neel Mukut were supposed to be some of the most notable releases of 2020. The pandemic has poured cold water over all these plans, as the filmmakers are waiting for better days to arrive.
Cinema theatre owners need to come up with ways to reopen their establishments safely and draw the audiences back. The pandemic has introduced a new normal into our lives. As the entertainment arena tries to figure out how to move forward, the film industry must step up to succeed with technology, creativity and relevant support from the authorities.