The Hyderabad City police, in an RTI query, have said that multiplexes and theatres cannot restrict movie-goers from carrying food and water bottles to the cinema hall. Responding to the RTI query filed by Hyderabad-based anti-corruption activist Vijay Gopal, the police have clarified there are no curbs by law to carry food and water, and a complaint can be filed with the Legal Metrology Department who will check if there are any violation of law.
Under the Cinema Regulation Act of 1955, there are no restrictions in letting a customer carry his own snack box or water bottles. Despite the law, most multiplexes do not allow customers to carry food or beverages citing security issues.
Two years back, after Vijay Gopal had filed a complaint with the Hyderabad Consumer Forum, INOX multiplex was ordered to pay up Rs 5,000, along with another Rs 1,000 to Vijay for charging extra on water bottles. The forum had then noted that there cannot be two MRPs for the same water bottle, and asked INOX to discontinue the unfair trade practice.
The recent RTI response has also brought to light that no single screen theatres can charge a customer for providing 3D glasses. However, the police say that few multiplexes are permitted to do so for screening 3D movies as per the representations and GOs issued by the government.
Interestingly, there is also no provision that stops a customer from carrying his/her own 3D glasses to a theatre if they do not wish to pay for it. There are no prescribed charges for 3D glasses in theatres. Since most of the stand-alone theatres do not provide a bill/receipt for charging extra, a complaint regarding the same can be submitted to the legal metrology department.
Though the police in the RTI response say that no information regarding standard ticket prices can be published on any website as it pertains to third-party information, it has clarified that certain theatres are allowed to collect extra money on tickets during the time of big movie releases.
The issue raged during the release of Mahesh Babu’s film Maharshi, after single screen theatres hiked the ticket prices by 20%. Telangana Cinematography Minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav was quick to issue a press statement clarifying that the government had not given any permission to the theatre owners to increase the ticket prices. In states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the government has decided price slabs and theatres can only charge according to the slab they fall into.
However, according to the RTI response, in Hyderabad, single screen/multiplexes are allowed to collect extra amount for the first 2-3 weeks according to respective orders by the High Court. Since the government is yet to frame any guidelines on the price hike, the court has given permission to the theatre owners to increase the rates.