Back to theatres: People share experience of watching movies in cinemas after 8 months

Hyderabad: The wait for the movie buffs is finally over as cinema halls are back in town again after eight long months. The theatres which were left blank and deserted due to the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown since April 2020, re-opened after the state government gave a nod with a set of precautionary measures.

Multiplex chains including PVR Cinemas, Inox, Cinepolis, and Mahesh Babu’s AMB cinemas started screening movies from December 4 in Hyderabad.

As the movie halls reopened on Friday, many people who were waiting to watch their favourite flicks and stars on big screens rushed to the theatres.

Siasat.com spoke to a few people in Hyderabad, who shared their experience of watching films after hiatus of eight long months.

“For most part, we were scared,” said Sandilya Pisapati, a Hyderabad-based musician, who watched Tenet with his friends at AMB cinemas. “We were asked to not remove masks, but there is no one to ensure that once we are seated in the hall. There are crowds and queues as usual,” he said.

For Ronak Saraiya, a student, who also watched ‘Tenet’, it was his best experience ever. “The sound, the big screen, nothing can be compared to that of the theatre’s experience!”

Referring to the COVID-19 protocols which are being followed at the theatres, he said, “Alternate seating does make you feel you’re watching it alone, and that’s actually better.”

“The show I went to was almost houseful so it was good to see people show up and maintain social distance too,” he concluded.

However, for Nikita Venkatesh, a Journalist from Hyderabad, the new experience of seeing fewer people in the auditorium felt a “bit weird”.

“The movie experience was great obviously. It felt amazing! I missed it the most. So finally going to a theatre and seeing the big screen after this long was simply amazing,” she said.

Anem Abhijeet, a student, was excited so much so that he felt like watching a film for the first time in theatres. “That sound and experience cannot even beat home theatres. It was amazing after so many months. I felt like it was my first experience,” he said.

Set of COVID-19 precautions in theatres

Social Distancing in movie theatres
  • Adequate physical distancing of at least 6 feet to be followed outside the auditoriums, common areas, and waiting areas at all times.
  • Use of face covers/masks is mandatory at all times.
  • Availability of hand sanitizers, preferably in the touch-free mode, at entry and exit points as well as common areas within the premises.
  • Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves the strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing.
  • Thermal screening, protection gear like PPE kits for staff, and compulsory providing of phone numbers for contact tracing, are also among changes that people will witness.
  • Cinema halls will also promote the use of digital payment systems and online ticket booking is being made mandatory.
  • Spitting in the theatre premises is strictly prohibited.
  • The occupancy of the cinemas/theatres/multiplexes will not be more than 50% of their total seating capacity.