In Guwahati city, ever since the multiplexes started dominating the field of cinema, single-screen cinemas have been working in a challenging state. However, the cinemas were still running, and the owners didn’t have to worry much about the next paycheck.
Then came the pandemic; lockdown started in 2020 and is continuing to date. Even various cinemas had to shut down due to incurring losses during the first lockdown. These included Apsara Cinema Hall, Meghdoot Picture Palace, Urvashi, and Vandana in Guwahati; Silver Screen in Bijoynagar, and Aditi in Nagaon. The others that were somehow running were brought to their knees by the fallout of the 2nd wave in March, April.
Owner of Anuradha Cineplex, Chinmoy Sharma said, “We have around 25 staff members and we continue to pay them at least half of their salary.” And when asked if he would re-employ after normalcy, he said a definite yes.
Along with the maintenance charges, the biggest hurdle that the shutdown cinemas face is the payment of fixed electricity charges and a power factor penalty imposed against the non-usage of minimum units.
Cinema hall owners have also submitted a memorandum to the Government of Assam urging relaxation. Sharma, who is also the All Assam Cinema Halls Owners’ Association president, says, “We have requested the government to take separate note of our case.”