Overrated entertainment industry

Neil Ray | Monday, 26 October 2020

After cinema, theatre here has also opened for public shows. Sports and games in this country are, however, yet to roll on their venues except for some preparatory cricket matches. In England, however, cricket matches between the West Indies and England kicked off first. The European Nations League, Champions League and premier leagues were given the go-ahead even before the Covid-19 cases hit the flat line. Some players including big names Christiano Ronaldo, Mbappe and Dibala tested positive but the shows go on. And this is notwithstanding the fresh surge of coronavirus cases in Europe.
Even a round of the World Cup matches in Latin America has been played. Also, the most popular and biggest T20 league, IPL is now showcasing cricketing prowess and instant entertainment. But the competition could not be held in India and had to be shifted to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah for avoiding infection.
The entertainment industry, including sports, has taken a body blow on account of the pandemic. Shooting had to be postponed and films could not be released. Some tried to release a few on the netflix but that is hardly an alternative to releasing those in movie houses. In Europe, the second wave of the virus has already compelled governments to go for cluster shutdown, closure of bars and restaurants and even night curfew.
True, people have waited long and their urge to overcome the boredom is well understood. In a situation like this the cricket and football matches give them quite a relief. But not all are interested in sports; cinemas and theatres are favourite with them. Here both economy and mental refreshment and nourishment work together to develop culture of a people. This pandemic has pushed many of the entertainment industry's low-paid artistes and technicians to the corner. Their livelihoods, like many in the informal sector, have been severely disrupted.
So it is not beyond imagination the compulsion behind opening theatre houses and cinema halls. But can they draw adequate numbers of viewers to make the shows profitable? Some avid cinema or drama lovers will definitely attend such shows but many will be more prudent not to show up in such public auditoriums. After all, the virus has not at all disappeared and its threat is looming large on the eve of the winter that is about to knock at the door.
The value of the entertainment industry, however, cannot be measured in terms of money. But money certainly plays a crucial role in making what an entertainment industry stands for. The glitzy and make-believe world spends billions of dollars on making a film and often churns out profits many times more. Leaving aside a few that make losses, most films come out with fabulous returns on investments. No wonder, the silver-screen heroes and heroines take a hefty sum for their roles in a film. A more fancied Bollywood matinee idol takes more than Rs 10,000,000 for a film.
Sports icons also make news for their annual income. A number of them make it to the Forbes list for their fabulous sums they earn a week. A post on social media reading "You give the footballer 1.0 million euros a month & a biological researcher euro 1,800 per month, and you are looking for a cornavirus treatment. Go to Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi & they will get you a cure" made rounds for months. As it often happens on social media, a Spanish scientist was falsely implicated with the origin of the post. However false, the inherent truth is undeniable.
Indeed, social and economic priorities have not been set right in a market economy that thrives on intrigues at worst and on instant gratification at best.

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