Hard Times: With cinemas shut because of Covid-19, a single screen owner faces his worst-ever crisis


In 2019, Scroll.in’s Hard Times series sought to explain and illustrate how India’s slowest economic growth in a decade was affecting ordinary people. This followed reporting by Scroll.in in 2016 and 2017 on the effects that demonetisation had on the lives of Indians around the country.

As the world continues to grapple with the Covid-19 crisis, Hard Times now takes a look at the impact of India’s draconian lockdown on individuals and firms from all corners of the economy. Read all of the pieces in the Lockdown Hard Times series here.

The obituary of the iconic Bharatmata cinema in central Mumbai has been written several times over the past few decades. The first farewell note for the single-screen theatre in Lalbaug was issued in the 1980s, when films began to be available on video cassettes. Then came satellite television, which beamed movies into the living room. The shiny multiplexes followed with the promise of a new and supposedly more rewarding big-screen experience. The threat posed by streaming platforms is a more recent phenomenon.

“Every ten years, there has been a new challenge,” said Kapil Bhopatkar, Bharatmata’s owner. “In the 1980s, people said, it’s all over, you cannot survive and you will shut shop soon. After 2010, we had other issues that came together – terrorism, bomb blasts,…

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