There was a time where we used to plan instantly to go to a movie theatre with our friends and enjoy the movie on a large screen with grooving sound, whether it is English, Hindi, or any other language. But then, 2020 came as an uninvited guest and shattered the whole world with Covid Pandemic. Lots of people got infected, offices and schools/colleges were shut down immediately. Along with this, entertainment places such as parks, movie halls were also closed down without any further information. As a movie lover, I, who use to go to a movie theatre every week, felt very disheartened but had to stay home in the traumatic times.
OTT platforms have been in great demand as the cinema halls are closed, and the movie production houses eye the platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime as it has been getting huge crowd from the people since the beginning of the pandemic. But my mind is to always experience a movie on a big screen. So, I waited for the halls to reopen, also skipped a few OTT releases. Then, finally, after a few months, cases of covid have seen a huge drop, giving hope for everyone that they can soon return to normalcy like in 2019. Slowly, offices and other important institutions were reponed in a phased manner. Cinema Halls were reopened in 50% occupancy initially. At that point, I was still too scared by the prospect of contracting COVID-19 and ending up on a ventilator to consider leaving my bubble to watch a movie with other people. But as a cinema lover, I was willing to step out of my house and went out to watch a Hollywood movie named ‘Tenet’ which was an extraordinary experience, not because the movie was good, but because I was watching a movie on a big screen after a long time.
Movie theatres have not vanished with the advent of television mainly because of the general attraction of the audience. We don’t get the feeling of a lot of strangers applauding as the Black Panther fights Killmonger or the collective panic of the audience who are devastated by the end of South Korean black comedy by watching it on our phones or tv. Through streaming, we get comfort and ease of use, but we lose the experience of sitting in a dark room with our moviegoers and watching the movie on the large screen the way it should have been seen.
For moviegoers, the pandemic has been a major turning point and I’m not just talking about the exciting experience of going out, which is an important part of our culture. If we take the film seriously and believe in the beauty of it, then going to the movies can be a way of life; it could mean that we see and hear the film as intended. It is difficult and expensive to repeat that in your home. We look forward to the days when we can simply make plans to visit the theatre and there will be no covid limits such as social distancing or wearing masks and enjoy the movie as an audience full of laughter, hooting, and cheering.
-Raj Kumar Thakuria