HTLS 2020: It’s behaviour of people that matters more than where you are, says PVR chairman Ajay Bijli on safety of theatres

PVR chairman Ajay Bijli said they are making movie-watching at the cinemas more experiential now.

Ajay Bijli,(Chairman and MD, PVR Ltd.) has assured the movie-going audience that a movie theatre is far more safe than restaurants and metros as far as the fear of spread of the coronavirus is concerned. He also added that it is the behaviour of the people at a place that eventually matters.

On being asked about how safe was to watch a movie in a closed environment, Bijli said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2020, “First of all, the height (of the ceiling) is nine metres in cinemas. You don’t have nine-metre heights in aeroplanes, metros, restaurants. This is a massive height. In fact, a building has hyperfilters etc as per the law. It’s the behaviour of the people that matters more than where you are. People in cinemas are actually looking at the screen, they are not talking to each other. They have their masks off only when they are having popcorn or pepsi. Yet again, there is no communication happening.”

 

He further said that audiences in a sports environment were considered to be at higher risk for airborne transmission of the virus. “Music concerts, bars, pubs – lot of countries first opened the cinemas because of the social behaviour of people in cinemas is much quieter and much less conducive to spread (the virus) than anything else,” he said.

He also added that employees at movie theatres are trying to make it more experiential now. He said that the people at movie theatres are now singing and dancing and finding ways to woo the consumer.

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He was answering a viewer who raised concerns after reading various reports that stated that droplet transmission was prompted by AC ventilation.

Bijli said that cinemas are currently mostly playing older movies for people who are eager to step out for a cinematic experience. “We have bounced back every time. Cinema is an incomplete experience till you get brand new movies. We have single digit occupancy with older movies as people are so keen to get out. We are not designed to stay at home. This gives me a lot of hope. About 5000 odd screens have opened and there are regional successes,” he said.

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