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Coronavirus threat: Exhibitors in Kerala to keep theatres shut till 16 March

Release of Mohanlal's Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, Suriya's Soorarai Pottru and Tovino Thomas's Kilometers and Kilometers to be postponed.   

Source: WikimediaCommons/Image for representational purposes only

Our Correspondent

Even as the Hindi film industry is deep in discussions over the looming threat of the coronavirus pandemic on film exihibition, theatre exhibitors in Kerala have acceded to the state government's request to keep theatres shut till 16 March. 

The Hindu newspaper reported that Kerala chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier requested the film industry to put on hold any theatrical screenings till 31 March, in view of the growing threat of coronavirus in the state. So far, Kerala has seen 12 cases of the dreaded virus, which includes six new cases reported in the last week alone. 

The state government has also suspended classes and canceled examinations till the seventh standard until 31 March. 

In a statement M Renjith, president, Kerala Film Producers' Association said, "Cinema halls will remain closed till 16 March. We have learnt that a government-level review of the general situation will be held on 16 March. A decision on whether to extend the period of the closure of theatres will be taken on the basis of the feedback given by the government." 

Renjith also added that close to 20 films were currently in production in different regions of the state. He said that the producers have been intimated and asked to take a call on whether shooting should be suspended for the same period of time as well. 

The decision is set to affect the big budget release of Priyadarshan's period epic, Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, featuring Mohanlal. Additionally, if the situation escalates, it might also affect two other major releases in April, the Vijay-led Master (2020) and Suriya's Soorarai Pottru (2020). The Tovino Thomas-starrer, Kilometers and Kilometers (2020), which had been scheduled for release on 12 March, has also been postponed. 

The online Manorama website quoted Thomas as saying, "One of the best ways to curb the spread of the virus is to avoid large gatherings. Realizing this, the team behind Kilometers has decided to postpone the movie."

The Malayalam film industry is not the first to take precautionary steps. On Monday, the Hindi film industry scheduled several meetings to discuss the future of its forthcoming releases.

Sources suggest that the trailer launch of the Ranveer Singh-starrer, 83 (2020), has already been postponed. Reports also suggest that makers of Rohit Shetty's Sooryavanshi are in discussions over whether to postpone the release of the Akshay Kumar blockbuster, scheduled for 24 March. However, there has been no confirmation so far on either report from the production houses.  

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in over 3,000 deaths so far. Countries like Italy, Iran, and China have already locked down due to the growing mortality count. 

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