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Monday, May 28, 2012

Next change?

Cinemimi [Monday, May 28, 2012]
Despite the Capital's cosmopolitan character, there is little space for regional cinema here

PVR Saket, Vicky Donor, 12:35 p.m; Shipra Mall, Department, 10 a.m.; MovieTime, Avengers, 5:05 p.m.

Not finding a regional name in the movie list of popular Delhi multiplexes? It is not surprising. Though Delhi is considered a melting pot of cultures, its cosmopolitan character rarely translates to the kind of movies it has to offer to its inhabitants.

People from different regions of the country reside here, making it a much sought after place to live in. If Chittaranjan Park has Bengalis living in huge numbers, R.K. Puram is a hub of Tamils. Similarly Katwaria Sarai constitutes people from Odisha, and North-West Delhi is famous for its Punjabi population. Movies representing these communities, though, are hardly played by the multiplexes of the city.

Sumit Seth, Marketing Manager, MovieTime, Pitampura, defends, “We run multiplexes to make money. Contrary to popular belief, we don't earn our profit from the tickets. Popcorns, soft drinks and other eatables help us make money. So, obviously, even if we have more than six screens, we would show only those movies that are crowd-pullers. Why would we risk our revenue for a regional flick that has limited viewership?”

The profit from a multiplex ticket costing Rs.100, for instance, is shared by film distributors, multiplex owners and film producers. Twenty per cent of the sum goes into entertainment tax. The remaining amount is shared equally among the film distributors and theatre owners.

Keeping aside the financial aspect, don't the film distributors hold the responsibility of encouraging regional cinema in a metropolitan city? Amar Nath Bhatia, a film distributor, responds, “Money is the biggest catalyst in the entire scheme of things. We are not averse to the idea of promoting regional films. But we need to accept that such films work only in certain pockets of the city.”

Among the regional lot, Punjabi films have fared relatively well in the Capital. But it is just the tip of the iceberg, says popular Bollywood and now Punjabi actor Jimmy Shergil. “The northern belt of Delhi-NCR, UP, Bihar and Haryana is an important territory for our films but still only two to three film prints are sold in the area. The fault lies with the actors too. Regional film personalities should promote their films in Delhi as well. These films generally work by word of mouth and when people start taking notice, they are ready to be pulled down.”

In the horde of things, there are a few forces constantly working to take regional cinema to the people. Delhi Tamil Sangam at R.K. Puram organises free movie screenings every month for members as well as non-members. R. Mukundan, Secretary of the organisation, chirps, “We receive hundreds of calls everyday, mostly from Tamils requesting a movie screening. Our initiative is to help the community stay rooted to their culture and cinema even if they are kilometres away from their native place.”

Parveen Vohra of Hans Cinema mentioned that regional audience won't shell out Rs.100 to 250 to watch their films. They would go for other alternatives like CDs, online and even television. Keeping in mind that the area is favoured by Bihari immigrants, Hans often plays Bhojpuri films, brining up a rare instance in the city dominated by Hindi and Hollywood flicks.

North East Haat is another organisation that is taking small steps to bring North Eastern films closer to the Capital. Its Secretary, Rosy Nieithem expressed, “As far as the promotion of our films is concerned, nothing official has been done by the Delhi government. We organised the North East Film Festival on the JNU campus in 2010 but due to lack of funds we fail to take up such initiatives on a regular basis.”

Regional films famous for their content and script are bringing in the factor of presentation and style as well of late. Punjabi films are setting cash registers ringing even in non-Punjabi areas. Other language films like Bengali, Malayalam and Marathi cinema are also taking a different route to reach a wider audience. But, sadly, movie lovers of the city get very few opportunities to watch different kind of cinema.

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