With just a day left for the reopening of cinema halls in the state, the two groups are yet to arrive at a conclusion on the long pending issue.

Women outside cinema theatre clicking selfie Image for Representation/PTI
Flix Kollywood Monday, November 09, 2020 - 14:24

With the Tamil Nadu government allowing the reopening of cinema halls beginning November 10, four days ahead of Deepavali, Kollywood seems to be doing what it does best — last minute hiccups in its best-laid-out plans. With Tamil film producers and theatre owners yet to arrive at a consensus with respect to the Virtual Print Fee (VPF), it looks like theatres will re-open with reruns of old releases.

Speaking to TNM, producer Dhananjayan, whose production company Creative Entertainers and Distributors is producing the Tamil and Telugu remakes of the Kannada film Kavaludaari that released in 2019, says, “We have not arrived at a solution, we’re still talking.”

With discussions on, Dhananjayan hopes for some headway within the next two days. “We are confident of coming to a solution,” he adds. However, the producers are clear about their demands. “It is not about backing down. We are particular about our requirements and we are on the job. We are waiting for things to move ahead,” he adds.

VPF is the subsidy paid by a film distributor or an exhibitor towards the purchase of a digital cinema projection equipment. This came into effect over 18 years ago when the film industry replaced film reels with the digital exhibition format. While producers initially agreed to bear this cost, they argue that it is no longer profitable for them to continue to do so. This ball (VPF) has been passed around by all three parties —  producers, theatre owners and Digital Service Providers (DSP) — for a while now, without arriving at a conclusion.

On the other side, at the theatre owners’ camp, Tiruppur Subramaniam, too says that they are eager to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. “We will open with old films for now but we are hoping for a conclusion to this issue before Deepavali,” he tells TNM.

The issue had brought Tamil cinema to a standstill in 2018, with the standoff lasting for over a month.

Earlier in September this year, the producers under the new leadership of Bharathiraja had put forward six demands. Not paying VPF anymore is one among them.

Meanwhile, announcements on new Tamil releases have not been made but it is being speculated that Jiiva and Arulnithi’s Kalathil Santhipom, a treasure hunt comedy titled Pandrikku Nandri Solli, director Santhosh’s adult horror-comedy Iruttu Arayil Murattu Kuthu 2 or Irandam Kuthu and Santhanam’s Biskoth may release in theatres for Deepavali week if the issue is sorted out in time.

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