After the long coronavirus-driven closedown, the cinema halls have been given the green signal to open their doors to viewers. Of course, the show can go on provided that, as the ritualistic instruction follows, health protocols are maintained in movie houses. On the first day after lifting the embargo on film shows, not many cinema halls or Cineplex opened. Reopening of venues of shows is significant in more ways than one. The greatest of all entertainment industries, cinema or movie has suffered grievously in every country on this planet on account of the prolonged shutdown. Hollywood and Bollywood -- the largest, most popular and thriving tinsel-town industries -- have by now incurred losses in the range of billions of dollars.
Cinema halls or movie houses are an integral part of the industry and if new films cannot be made or released, the entire industry stumbles. But the resilience of producers, directors and highly paid actors and actresses in the face of such economic and social crises cannot be expected from others down the line in the industry and still much less from hall owners.
The problem here is longer than the pandemic. For decades now the industry has been in a moribund state. The industry has been taken over by people with little or no talent for the art. If they, with rare exception, are known for any talent it is for coarse taste and depiction of vulgarity on the celluloid. Of course, some young filmmakers have come up with unique creations called alternative cinema. Those are appreciated for their contents, treatment, theme and finesse. No wonder that such films bag awards from film festivals abroad. With small budgets these filmmakers have kept alive the flame of cinema industry in this country.
The problem here is that such films receive step-brotherly treatment right from its sponsorship to shooting and promotion. These are hardly released in cinema halls for public view. Thus cinema halls are avoided by not just people of refined taste but also by the middle class which has ever remained the greatest patron of cinema among all segments of society in every country.
So, the film industry was swooning long before the arrival of coronavirus in this country. A contemporary has carried a report on the opening day's state of things in and around two cinema halls located side by side. There is hardly any sign of revival of the industry's fortune much less of the movie houses. Star Cineplex at Basundhara, the most popular attraction in an environment of movie-goers' increased lack of enthusiasm for cinema has been permanently shut down, although its management declared that its other branches would open when situation improves. Have they opened?
Many cinema halls -- one after another even in district towns -- had to be dismantled even before the pandemic in favour of developing commercial centres there. It was because the industry could not meet the challenges of the time and the substandard films churned out from the industry here proved its incapacity to draw spectators when the Bollywood and Hollywood were going full throttle. True, there is no dearth of money for those two behemoths of glamour world but money is no replacement for genius. Bollywood has turned to unconventional stories for making films and Hollywood, despite its depiction of a make-believe world, relies on super technology and visual art to capture viewers' attention.
The pandemic has taken so much toll that a British heritage, Liverpool's Woolton Picture House could be saved only by a public fundraising campaign. In Dhaka, Gulistan cinema hall could be considered such a national heritage but it no longer exists there.
The film industry here hardly boasts any plus point and its naivety and crudity get so blatantly exposed that its future now looks grim. Violence and obscenity cannot take this industry far. So it is on a precipitous decline and unless the young talented directors are patronised, there is little hope this industry can survive.