Second wave of Covid plays spoil sport, 120 Malayalam movies await release

Kochi: Malayalam cinema industry has been completely stalled as the state is being ravaged by the more severe second wave of Covid 19. The theaters that had functioned for a short period of time during this year, closed down after the situation became grave. Filming and all other production activities too got cancelled or postponed when the government announced a mini lockdown in the state, in an attempt to tame the pandemic. There are around 120 movies that have been waiting for a theatrical release since the past one year. It means that investments worth millions have been in limbo since some time.

‘Interest' trap

Hundreds of cinema workers including producers, theater owners and ordinary laborers stare at uncertainty and severe crisis as the cinema industry got stalled. While the workers are worried that their means of income would be gone, many producers have no idea how to repay the huge loans that they had taken for ‘killer’ interests. It is said that there are producers who pay up to Rs 50 lakh per months only as interests.

If the movies that are made on humungous budget cannot be released on time, then they would keep accumulating debt. Meanwhile, many theater owners had spent millions to renovate the theaters, hoping to grant a fabulous cinematic experience to the audience. After the lockdown, many theaters had reopened after upgrading their air conditioning, sound system and seats too. The theater owners, who were already struggling, were forced to avail loans for the renovations.

Hope for Onam

The theaters were reopened, on 13 January this year, after being closed down for almost ten months due to the pandemic. They were shut down again, on 25 April, when the second wave began to grip the state. Around 45 movies were released in the theater during this time. Among them, only a handful of movies were financially lucrative. Though the theaters were opened in January, second shows were allowed only in March. Families began returning to the theaters only after this. When the theaters were slowly recovering, the second wave of Covid 19 made an unpleasant entry as a deadly villain. Big budget movies like Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham and Malik that had already announced their release dates have now been postponed. Meanwhile, the cinema industry and movie lovers hope that the pandemic would subside by the Onam season and the theaters would get active again with some new and exciting releases. 

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