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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

As stalemate continues,unconventional films fill the void

Catching a weekend show at multiplexes was never this easy. No long queues for tickets,no houseful boards.

Written by Vaibhav Vats | New Delhi |
May 25, 2009 11:05:30 am

Catching a weekend evening show at multiplexes was never this easy. No long queues for tickets,no houseful boards and no crowd at food stalls—all these so-far-impossible features are a reality now,courtesy the ongoing stalemate between producers and multiplex owners.

According to Sanjay Mehta,a distributor,multiplexes are operating at 50 per cent of their capacity. “If they have four screens,they have shut down two.”

With no big-budget movies hitting theatres,cinema lovers continue to wait for the stalemate to end. Kartik Ram,a resident of Mayur Vihar,recently went to watch Fast and Furious 4 at the Wave Cinemas in Noida. “I was the only one to attend the screening. They told me they were cancelling the show.”

Cancellations,especially the late-night shows on weekdays,have become a regular feature.

According to Mehta,timing the boycott call with the IPL,elections and board examinations was strategically planned. “April and May were expected to be a lean period. In addition to college exams,IPL and elections were expected to keep people away from the theatres. No big releases were planned any way,so it was an opportune moment for the producers and distributors to take a stand.”

But one heartening aspect that has come out of this stalemate is the screening of films that are not from the mainstream stable. An example is Silent Light,a critically acclaimed film. “Since attendance is low,we are targeting a festival audience by screening offbeat films,” said a theatre manager who did not wish to be named.

With the lovers of non-mainstream films lapping it up,Silent Light is ensuring a good occupancy at PVR Select Citywalk.

Saif Akhtar,a student of Jamia,said: “Usually,films like Sicko would not have been screened. I am happy people are being introduced to a different kind of cinema.”

Similar is the case with regional films.While 2 Harihar Nagar,a Malayalam comedy,is running successfully at PVR Rivoli and EDM,Mohabata Sachiya is drawing crowds to Wave Cinemas in Raja Garden. According to PVR sources,both Silent Light and 2 Harihar Nagar are enjoying 60 per cent occupancy.

Single-screen theatres,meanwhile,are suffering for no fault of theirs. “We have little choice but to wait for the stalemate to end. There are two warring parties and we have no say in the matter,” said Uday Kaushik,who runs Sheila Cinemas in Paharganj.

Producers and distributors predict that the multiplexes will blink first. Mehta said: “If you are running a multiplex in South Delhi,or any upmarket area,the rents are very high. In case of poor attendance,electricity costs become unfeasible too. Multiplexes are being unable to cope with this.”

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