More than 50 cinema halls have been closed permanently in the country during the pandemic.
The pandemic stricken 2020 has proved to be the worst year for the ailing film industry of the country. Although the industry has been passing through a bad time for the last few years, the current year seems to have hit the final nail in the coffin. All the sectors of the film industry have been hit hard by the pandemic.
Only 13 films released
All the cinema halls of the country were shut down on March 18 due to Covid-19. The halls were reopened after eight months on 16 October. No new film was released during this period. From January to March and then after October, only 13 films were released. Last year, 41 movies were released in the country.
The list of movies released this year includes Joy Nagarer Zamindar, Gondi, Hridoy Jure, Chal Jai, Shahenshah, Haludabani, Sahasi Hero Alam, Unpanchash Batas, Rangbaji, Biography of Nazrul, Biswa Sundari, Rupsha Nadir Banke and Nawab LLB.
Superstar Shakib Khan's two movies - Shahenshah and Nawab LLB were released at the beginning and end of the year. Both the movies were well received by the viewers.
50 halls closed
More than 50 cinema halls have been closed in the country during the pandemic. According to Bangladesh Film Producers and Exhibitors Association, more than 180 cinema halls were in operation before Covid-19. Some of these halls were kept open only during the festivals. The rest were open over the year.
More than Tk500 crore loss
According to the people concerned, the industry has incurred a loss of more than Tk500 crore during the seven months of closure of the cinema halls across the country. Khorshed Alam Khasru, president of Bangladesh Film Producers and Exhibitors Association, said a lot of people are involved with the film industry. From technicians to actors, producers to directors, everyone has suffered.
Waiting for funds
The government has promised to set up a fund of Tk 1,000 crore for development of the film industry and renovation of cinema halls. Owners will be able to take conditional loans from this fund. Closed cinema halls can be reopened, renovated and new halls can be built with this loan. However, despite the announcement, no activities concerning the loan have started yet. There is no information about when it will start.
Shakib's movie on OTT platform
At the end of the year, Nawab LLB starring Shakib Khan was released on December 16 on the domestic OTT platform i-Theater. This is Shakib's first movie to be released live on OTT. There were a lot of issues surrounding the release. Actresses Mahiya Mahi and Shakib Khan have accused the director Ananya Mamun of not keeping his promise.
Besides, Ananya Mamun, the director of the film and the managing director of i-Theater, was criticised for releasing only half of the film.
Conflict between producer and artist association
Zayed Khan, the general secretary of the Film Artists' Association, has been at loggerheads with other film organisations for a long time. The conflict became more visible during the pandemic.
Zayed Khan's membership was suspended by the Producers' Association in the first week of November, with other members accusing him of being involved in activities against the organisation. On the other hand, Zayed Khan also lodged a counter-complaint of various irregularities against the Producers' Association with the Commerce Ministry. He complained that the election for the term of 2019-21 of Bangladesh Film Producers and Distributors Association did not follow rules.
The Commerce Ministry cancelled the 2019-21 term of the executive council committee of the Bangladesh Film Producers and Distributors Association as the allegations were proved in the ministry's investigation. Later the old committee was reinstated through the court.
National Film Awards announced
The National Film Awards 2019 were announced in December. Senior actor Masood Parvez Sohail Rana and Kahinur Akhter Suchanda jointly received the lifetime achievement award.
Tariq Anam Khan won the best actor award for his performance in Abar Basanta and Sunerah Binte Kamal won the best actress for her performance in No Dorai. Toukir Ahmed and Tanim Rahman Anshu jointly received the award of best director for their films Fagun Hawai and No Dorai respectively.
After such a bad year for the film industry, everyone hopes that 2021 will bring some good news. Several big budget pictures are waiting to be released in 2021. Shooting of new films has also started.