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The death of India’s single-screen cinemas

More than a month after the movie started screening in his theatre in the middle of September 2009, Vishek Chauhan finally decided Salman Khan’s action drama Wanted had exhausted its run. In an era where jubilees had become a thing of the past and films were being taken off the screens immediately after the opening weekend due to flagging audience enthusiasm, Khan’s Eid comeback in the late-2000s had broken box office records—running for five weeks at Chauhan’s 300-seater Roopbani Cinema in Purnea, Bihar. He recalls that five policemen had to be pressed into duty to keep the crowds at bay for the first ten days.

“It was insane. I would get calls about what was unfolding because the queues would extend from the cinema to the main road and beyond. I recall this one kid, a Salman fanatic, who saw the film every day for the 35 days we played it,” Chauhan recalled. Nearly 12 years later, this Eid season will be dull for Chauhan with cinemas in Bihar—like most other parts of the country—shut owing to the second wave of covid-19. Live Mint

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