Given that entertainment is regarded neither a necessity nor a priority, auditoriums and multiplexes have been recording a steep fall in the turnout of film and theatre enthusiasts since demonetisation.
Harshadraj Pathak, manager of Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha, said immediately after the Prime Minister announced ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, two shows were cancelled. “Since the announcement, the auditorium has staged eight theatre productions and two musical programmes, wherein the ticket price was accepted by cheques. Though the show has been on for a while, the turnup has reduced by 40 per cent. Despite the government’s assurances that things will stabilise after December, I feel the cash crisis will go on for a few more months,” said Pathak.
Similarly, two other auditoriums in the city — Balgandharva Rangmandir and Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha — also saw two cancellations in the first week of currency ban.
Balgandharva has a seating capacity of 990 and Yashwantrao has 893 seats. The footfalls at both the auditoriums have reduced to almost 50 per cent.
Bharat Kumavat, who manages both the auditoriums, said, “Many of our organisers who had arranged for lavani performances at Balgandharva had announced an offer for the public that allows them to watch the show and pay later. But the residents of Pune are such that instead of paying later they would rather not go for the show. Hence, despite the ‘exciting offer’ the turnout has been low.
Even other programmes held at Balgandharva and Yashwantrao have seen fewer sale of tickets — both online and cash. The response has been less than 50 per cent.”
While city auditoriums are able to sail through somehow, cinema halls, especially single screen theatres, are struggling to survive post demonetisation. Sadanand Mohol, president of Pune Exhibitors Association, said that he has 13 single-screen theatres under its wings and most of them are barely getting 10 to 20 per cent footfalls. Out of four shows in a day, atleast one or two are cancelled everyday.
“People are spending only on necessary things and cinema obviously is not a necessity. They are not able to withdraw money from banks and ATMs, why will they go to a theatre to watch a film? All single-screen theatres are running in losses,” said Mohol.
Prakash Chaphalkar, member of All India Multiplex Association and the owner of Mangala — a multiplex with a single-screen theatre till a few years ago, said since entertainment industry is a fair-weather business it can only do well when everything goes right.
Hence, demonetisation was bound to affect it. Though the box office collection at city multiplexes have been low in the past three to four weeks ,the number of bookings on bookmyshow.com have gone up. “While people can book tickets online, they can’t buy other things like popcorn and other snacks with digital money.
So on that front, overall sale has gone down by nearly 35 per cent. So now some of the multiplexes have started using Paytm and other cashless options of transaction,” he said.