With no cap on ticket-pricing, Sandalwood film-makers pin hopes on Janata Theatre

There has been no tangible sign thus far from the authorities
With no cap on ticket-pricing, Sandalwood film-makers pin hopes on Janata Theatre
With no cap on ticket-pricing, Sandalwood film-makers pin hopes on Janata Theatre

Over two months have passed since actors and directors from the Sandalwood industry made a pitch for regulating prices of movie tickets in multiplexes across Karnataka. While some in the Sandalwood industry are still clinging to the hope that the government will do something to revive the industry, however, there has been no tangible sign thus far from the authorities.  

The petition to cap ticket prices at Rs 120, started by film-maker Dayal Padmanabhan in March 2016, has so far received over 49,500 signatures. However, filmmaker Suresha B says that while a cap on prices might be beneficial for smaller filmmakers like him, others in the industry are against the cap because they stand to lose revenue. 

“Though I am for it, the industry might lose out on major revenue if it did cap the prices. Instead the government’s plan to set up Janata Chitra Mandira or Janata Theatre would be a good idea,” Suresha said.

Proposed along the same lines as Tamil Nadu’s “Amma Theatre”, Janata Chitra Mandira is to set up over 300 theatres across the state that would give priority to films that are made on low budget films.

“If a film of a mass hero like Rajinikanth is released and people are ready to buy tickets for Rs 300 to Rs 400, then revenue for the film would run into hundreds of crores. But this can happen only with superstar films, and only for the first three to four days after the release date,” he said.

On the other hand, he said, films made on a low-budget, or which are different from the run-of-the-mill fare, would benefit from a cap, “because people who like to watch these films are those who can’t afford over Rs 180 per person.”

Suresha observed that the Sandalwood industry is one of the leading film industries in terms of the number of films released each year. 

"It has released over 75 films till May 2016 and only 3 of them have become a hit. And this is essentially because of the space that the films get," he said. 

Suresha also says that a cap on ticket prices might turn out to be counter-productive since that may constrain more successful directors who are presently helping smaller filmmakers in various ways.

“For instance, actors like Sudeep have taken to producing films and helping struggling filmmakers. Some others are also helping by letting smaller filmmakers rent out equipment for cheaper. This is because they are making a lot of money on their films,” he said.

Suresha said that the best thing the government can do for the Sandalwood industry is take the Janata Theatre concept seriously and provide this space for low budget films that have scope to touch a larger audience.

Minister for Information R Roshan Baig told The News Minute that the government had twice proposed the setting up of Janata theatres in the district and taluk headquarters — in 2015, and again in the 2016 budget session by Siddaramaiah.

Baig said that the proposal is awaiting clearance from the finance department, and once clearance is obtained, planning and execution for it might require another two or three years.

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