Around 50 cinemas were closed down due to Covid-19, leaving around 500 people unemployed
The film industry of Bangladesh, which has been in a fragile condition for many years due to various reasons, is on the verge of extinction after the Covid-19 pandemic further deteriorated the situation. It has been a long six months since any new film has been released or any cinema has opened. Film critics said the extermination of cinemas is obvious if the government does not take appropriate measures immediately.
People concerned believe the reason for this precarious situation is the closure of one cinema after another, the lack of good quality films, as well as the engagement of people involved in the film in organisational work, and finally the disinclination of the audience.
There used to be around 185 cinemas in the country, and with around 10 employees in each, they provided employment for 1,850 people. After the closing down of around 50 cinemas due to Covid-19, there remain around 135 of them which employ around 1,350 people, said Khorshed Alam Khasru, president of the Bangladesh Film Producers and Distributors Association.
Meanwhile, the Cinema Owners' Association and various film organisations have sought help from the government in this regard. They hope the government will soon announce how much money will be allocated for the film industry. The process has already started, said several leaders of the Bangladesh Film Producers and Distributors Association and the Film Directors Association.
Meanwhile, talks have been going on for the last few days about the government allocating Tk700 crore to the film industry. On August 25, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the formation of a special fund to make up for the losses incurred during the Covid-19 period to save the film industry, especially cinemas.
"The money will be spent on renovating cinemas across the country and building new ones. As far as I have heard, the loan can be availed at 1%-2% interest and be repaid in 20-25 years. If all goes well, the allocated money will reach the banks quickly," said Khorshed Alam Khasru.
When asked if only renovating the cinemas would solve all the problems, he said that when the cinemas are renovated and new ones are built, everything will be fine automatically because people are eagerly waiting to invest here.
If the government officially announces the support, some owners may reconsider the decision of closing their cinemas, said one owner who wished not to be named.
Meanwhile, on August 12, the Bashundhara Star Cineplex management held a press conference seeking cooperation from the government. Asking the government for help, Mahbubur Rahman Ruhel, chairman of the company, said, "Star Cineplex may be shut down without government support."
He also demanded cooperation and quick opening of cinema halls.
Considering these aspects, many have said the prime minister will announce the allocation soon.
Meanwhile, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Information Saiful Islam said, "We have sent a summary to the prime minister's office requesting the formation of a special fund, without mentioning any amount. We will start working after the prime minister gives further instructions."
I will be able to tell the details only after finalising the process by talking to the Bangladesh Bank, he added.