Telangana film exhibitors urge state govt to fulfil promises to help industry

In November, 2020, Telangana CM KCR had promised to implement measures to help revive the Telugu film industry.
A photo taken inside the theatre with people wearing masks
A photo taken inside the theatre with people wearing masks
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On November 22, 2020, the Telangana government announced that it would take all necessary measures to support the Telugu film industry, which is reeling under the impact of COVID-19. Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao announced exemptions and concessions that would be given to the workers of the industry. This announcement was made after a meeting with film personalities at the CM’s camp office. The representatives from the film industry urged the Chief Minister to extend his support.

At the time, KCR assured that the TRS manifesto for the GHMC elections that took place in December, would include measures that would benefit the film industry. These included allowing the reopening of theatres, waiver of electricity charges for the months when they were shut, and reimbursement of nine per cent GST for movies made with less than Rs 10 crore budget. However, the interests of film exhibitors remain underrepresented.

Fed up of waiting for the support of the government, on Wednesday, the exhibitors and members of the Telangana State Film chamber of Commerce came together and organized a press meet to voice their grievances and appeal to the government.

Speaking to TNM, Balgovind Raju, the Joint Secretary for the Telangana Film Chamber and member of the exhibitors’ group, said the situation has now reached a grave level. The main bone of contention is that parking at the theatres, which used to be chargeable, has now been made free by the government. This has significantly impacted the revenue of these establishments. Balgovind Raj said, “The single screen owners are small Indian businessmen. The revenue model with which we survived the last 40 years has been taken away by making parking free for those who come to watch a movie. The Telangana government made parking free and this has drastically affected our revenues. Today single screens are dying. If this is not addressed, one by one single screen theatres will have to be closed down.”

Apart from the parking issue, the exhibitors also want to raise the issue of flexible ticket rates and the electricity waiver that was promised by CM KCR. “Flexible ticket rates and waiver of electricity charges which were promised in November still remain unfulfilled. No one seems to be bothered about that. Film people have access to the government, it is the exhibitors who are on the roads and no one is taking up our issues”, added Balgovind Raju.

Around 400 exhibitors are part of the Telangana Film Chamber. They are worried that once the theatres shut shop, the people will be forced to pay a very high price to watch a movie in the multiplexes. They say tickets could be priced lower at single screens because they had an alternate revenue. However, with that option removed now, they stare at a bleak future and hope that the Telangana government steps in to fulfil their promises and to find an alternate way to the parking issue. “The government can regulate the parking fees instead of making it completely free. This will help the small theatres survive”, added Raju.  

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