By Diya Barmecha
Theatres have always been a huge part of the entertainment industry. People go with their minds blank and exit with their hearts filled. From varying languages to varying genres, movies cater to people every need. Along with the perfect movie, theatres also take care of the perfect environment with typical theatre foods such as popcorn and soda. Although the concept of a drive-in theatre is a western concept, it is not entirely foreing to Indian soil. In the past in cities like Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Bengaluru there have been people driving their cars to drive-in theatres and watching the magic, as well as stepping out of reality and into another’s reality.
For the movie Khaali Peeli starring Ananya Panday and Ishaan Khattar, a Bollywood analyst, Tara Adarsh took to twitter the announcement that this movie would feature in an online platform alongwith drive-in theatres in Gurugram and Bengaluru. In Gurugram, there has also been a supermoon drive-in event from 2nd-4th of October, where they screen multiple movies. They wanted to recreate the theatre feeling that most of the public has been missing from the shutting of theatres due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Unlock 4.0, which took effect on 21st September, the government allowed the opening of pen air theatres to operate with a maximum of 100 people. From then there has been Unlock 6 which has allowed the opening of theatres with 50% capacity for November 5th. However, with the scare of the virus and the close proximity of the seats in the theaters, in my opinion, not many people will go to the theatre. In a theatre there is no open air or space where you could sit with an open mask and enjoy the fresh air. However this could be achieved in a drive in theatres.
Swaroop Banarjee the COO and the business head of Zee Live says, “families want to be able to get out and be entertained while remaining safe. They will be able to enjoy a film on a large LED screen with sound towers on a nice green grass venue. At the entrance, we will have body temperature checks, patrons will be given masks and shields and cars will go through a fumigation tunnel. F&B services will also be sanitised and socially distant,”
In support with him, Gautam Dutta the CEO of PVR cinemas said that it seemed like an exciting venture and, “even before COVID had become a harsh reality, PVR had already signed up to build a drive-in theatre in Mumbai.”
Given its location and the atmosphere of this nation, many people also argue with the practicality of this theatre. One of the most significant ones is the weather problem. If this drive-in theatre would be open for the long run, it would have to close in the monsoon season which is very unpredictable in India. There would also need to be a lot of ventilation so that people don’t have to waste their car’s fuel or feel an extreme heat. The CEO of Reliance Entertainment, Shibasish Sarkar brings up issues like the time to create such a space. He explains that by the time the theatre might be ready for use the coronavirus may go away. He also mentions, “Why would producers want to release their films in open-air cinemas? If I have to release my film Sooryavanshi, I want eyeballs and 4,500 screens and not the 20 open-air cinemas, however quickly they might get ready.”
Concerning the practicality the Senior Vice president of a movie screen manufacturing company called Harkness Screens says that “you can’t use the same screen outdoors that you would use indoors (in a closed auditorium) because it would keep reflecting light.” Which would mean that there would need to be new screens made which would require even more time.
Using the example of the past, one of the most important issues was brought up by Manjoj Desai, Executive Director of Gaiety-Galaxy, “Mumbai had one such cinema by the name of Drive-In in Bandra. A lot of cases of sexual crimes were reported around that area when that cinema was operating,” Such issues are extremely serious and hard to keep in order.
All in all, the cons outweigh the goods. Even though we may want to go to a cinema, there are a plethora number of reasons why it won’t work. The opening of this blockbuster location seems something far from reality. During this pandemic we have gotten very experienced in watching movies at home and we need to continue to do so, for now.