PANJIM: Pictures of packed auditoriums for the screening of films at the ongoing 52nd edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) has left tiatr directors frustrated over the double standards in place when it comes to the rules for IFFI and for their tiatrs.
Tiatr directors who are still reeling from the financial fallout caused by the Covid pandemic have already conveyed their demands to the State government to lift the restrictions whereby only 50 per cent seating capacity is allowed for tiatrs. Against that backdrop, they were shocked to see that the same restrictions had been lifted for IFFI.
“It really hurts to see this happening right in front of our eyes. Covid pandemic has brought us down to our knees. It’s been two years and more now and still we are groping in darkness,” tiatrist Pascoal De Chicalim said.
While he described how only few tiatrists have started to stage shows, these have been at no profit no loss basis or in some cases full loss due to the strict protocols.
“Whilst we are following all the protocol norms, look at the pictures of the IFFI 2021 where delegates are sitting cramped up in the auditoriums. Why no Covid related protocols for these rich delegates enjoying on behalf of the government? Where is the Home Minister and the Collectors who have framed the rules? Why
the injustice to us tiatrists and why rules are thrown to the wind for them?,” Pascoal added.
Against this backdrop, the tiatr directors have demanded that the government withdraw their protocols allowing them to have shows at full auditorium capacity. They are also hopeful that the parishes will get the nod from the Bishop’s office to allow them to stage shows in their respective parishes.
Besides this, tiatr directors have pointed to another major problem that has compounded the difficulties they have been facing.
That is the non-availability of auditoriums except for the Hanuman Natyagraha Theatre in Mapusa, which they say has been charging exorbitant prices and doesn’t have air-conditioning (AC). While it used to charge Rs 5,000 earlier, it now charges Rs 15,000.
The other auditorium that was available to them, Pai Tiatrist Hall in Margao, has now been closed. Kala Academy Panjim is still under renovation and Ravindra Bhavan Vasco has also been closed for bookings as its central AC has stopped working.
The tiatr directors have demanded that the government ensure auditoriums are available to them across Goa. Some directors lamented that smaller halls are also heavily booked leaving them no other alternative choice as well.
More concerning is speculation that the Pai Tiatrist Hall at Ravindra Bhavan Margao (RBM) will be closed for bookings for a prolonged period.
Tiatr directors like Roseferns, Mario Menezes, Peter Roshan, Prince Jacob, Com Sally and Pascoal de Chicalim have written to the RBM Chairman and the Art and Culture Minister highlighting their grievances.
“Your (RBM) management has stopped alloting us the (Pai Tiatrist) auditorium from November 20 when we were in the peak of our shows and when the stressed out audiences are patronising our shows. A grave injustice is meted out to us by your unfair action and it has put us through lots of mental stress and agony,” the letter stated.
“We don’t understand the mentality of the management in taking this sudden step thus depriving us of the golden opportunity to stage our shows in the auditorium. The staff are giving half baked answers that the auditorium is reserved for IFFI or for liberation day programmes or for some programmes of the government. It looks as if this is done on purpose thus to deprive the tiatrist directors from staging their shows,” they added.
They reiterated that the present overall scenario post the pandemic has made it hard for them ‘to survive and sustain ourselves and our families with nothing in our pockets’.
“Whilst all the other businesses in the State have picked up we are still suffering for no fault of ours. With folded hands we request your goodself to please not put restrictions in the allotment of halls and don’t hold the allotments unnecessarily but let us avail the allotments like before for which, we will be ever grateful to you. Please let us book the auditorium as per availability and keep the auditorium open for us tiatrs directors so that we can stage our shows as before,” they added.