Liberty Basheer, President of Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation (KFEF), owned a theatre complex at Thalassery in Kannur district and was a prominent voice in the Malayalam film industry, till last year. However, after being side-lined as a result of the film strike called by KFEF last December, Basheer has been forced to shut shop.
In the strike spearheaded by Basheer last year, 250 A-class theatres in the state were shut down for about a month demanding more revenue. This was not the first time that KFEF had downed tools, thereby causing a huge loss to the film industry.
Dealing a huge blow to the KFEF, a new organisation for Kerala theatre owners was formed by actor Dileep on January 14, 2017. Many members of the KFEF also joined Dileep’s new organisation which was named Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK). Dileep also declared on the same day that there will be no theatre shutdown hereafter.
Though the KFEF called off their strike soon after Dileep announced his move, producers refused to give new movie prints to theatres affiliated with the KFEF. With no prints coming their way, many of the theatres under KFEF were unable to get any new releases and were compelled to join FEUOK.
The most affected was Liberty Basheer, as his five-screen Liberty theatre in Thalassery did not get any of the new Malayalam releases.
The new organisation told media that it was not FEUOK which banned the theatres, rather it was the producers who were not ready to give new films to Basheer.
Speaking to The News Minute, Basheer said that he is planning to close down his theatres and would start a shopping complex there.
“I have this complex in the prime area of Thalassery so I will start a new business there, so they can’t break them down completely. When they together decided not to give me movies what can I do? It will not cause me any loss, many big shops have asked the building for rent. My licence for theatre will end this March, so I may not renew it,” he said.
While almost all the other theatres under KFEF have joined the FEUOK, Basheer asserted that he will not join the new organisation under any circumstances.