The ongoing COVID-19, recently announced by WHO as a global ‘pandemic’ around the whole world, has been causing a global shutdown in several sectors including media and entertainment – even the most famous event on the annual film festival calendar, at Cannes, has been postponed. The entertainment and film industry of Bangladesh is no different.
All activities of Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (FDC) have been paused due to the virus fear, although a rally was held from FDC on Saturday by the Bangladesh Film Artistes Association and attended by its president Misha Saudagar, General Secretary Zayed Khan, actor Dipjol, Ilias Kanchan and more. They distributed masks and requested fans to be aware and avoid panicking about the Coronavirus.
Amid the fear of the COVID-19, the government in Bangladesh has recently shut down many institutional activities after the confirmation of local transmission and death cases of coronavirus cases to prevent the virus from spreading, and cinema halls all over the country are currently going into lockdown mode from March 18 to April 2 due to the pandemic, according to Bangladesh Film Producers-Distributors Association President Khorshed Alam Khosru.
While asked about the ongoing crisis and possibilities of a nationwide shutting down of the cinema halls, Khosru told Dhaka Courier that the association has decided to close all the halls until April 2.
“As the virus passes from human to human in close proximity, people inside crowded arena such as cinema halls are at a higher risk to be contaminated with the virus - so we decided not to continue the shows in any of the halls including the cineplexes from March 18 to April 2,” Khosru told Dhaka Courier.
If the crisis continues, the longevity of the decision can get extended until the situation gets normal – he further added.
However, country’s top cinema multiplexes including Blockbuster Cinemas at Jamuna Future Park and all branches of Star Cineplex (Bashundhara City, Shimanto Shambhar and SKS Tower) have postponed their activities since March 20; two days after the declaration came out from the association and health authorities.
Regarding the movies being showcased prior to the ban, Shakib Khan’s movie ‘Shahenshah’ was the only one significant release that came out on March 6, and was running at over hundred halls before the closing. Some of the releases including Masud Hasan Ujjal directed film ‘Unoponchash Batash’ and Siam Ahmed - Pori Moni starring, Chayanika Chowdhury directed film ‘Bishwa Sundari’ has been postponed.
As of now, movie lovers and hall owners are counting days for these films along with Shakib’s upcoming movie ‘Bidrohi’ and ‘Nabab LLB’, Arifin Shuvoo starring action extravaganza ‘Mission Extreme’, Siam Ahmed starring action film ‘SHAAN’, Ananta Jalil’s Bangladesh-Iran joint venture ‘Deen - The Day’, Tollywood star Dev starring Bangladeshi spy thriller film ‘Commando’, to name a few – for the Eid-Ul-Fitr releases which they expect to make up for the loss in the meantime, due to the Coronavirus – only if the uncertain situation get normal within the time.
Actors and actresses at home and abroad had already taken necessary steps to warn their admirers about the virus, either with the news about their own isolation or promoting safety measures via social media. Dhallywood stars including Shakib Khan, Siam Ahmed, Arifin Shuvoo, Riaz Ahamed and Bollywood’s megastars including Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and more have either posted video messages or status posts, requesting fans to be aware and safe from COVID-19.
At the same time several production houses, actors, directors and producers in Bangladesh and India have opened joint fundraising platforms online, for the production crews who might suffer devastating financial loss due to the lockdown.
Coming back to the theatre sphere of Bangladesh, all activities including shows, rehearsals and others have been suspended by the Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation from March 17 to 31 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Besides, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) has also suspended activities on all of their theatres and auditoriums till March 31.
On last Thursday, representatives of Actors’ Equity, Directors’ Guild, Television Programme Producers’ Association of Bangladesh and others met information minister Hasan Mahmud, discussed the circumstances and decided to postponed shootings of small screen productions including Television commercials (TVC), drama serials and others from March 22 to 31.
Everyone involved in the entertainment and media sphere at home and abroad is eagerly waiting to see the damage of COVID-19 minimized and for the world to come out of the grip of the pandemic.