more than a decade ago, when the K S Ravikumar’s
blockbuster Naataamai was released, I watched
it in a dingy theatre in a Tier-III city with
people shelling out money even ready to watch
it sitting on the floors or on some almost-broken,
cheap wooden furniture, which served as an excuse
for chairs. Now, theatres like that are things
of past, atleast, in the city. Welcome to the
world of multiplexes where movie watching is redefined
and entertainment is spelt with a big E.
The influence of multiplexes in the dictionary
of a movie-goer is such that now there is a genre
of movies targeting the ‘multiplex audience’.
It probably coincides with the birth of the Indian
Metrosexual man, but it is a fact that cannot
be denied that multiplex audiences are necessarily
urban, for where else other than the cities can
one find multiplexes.
The demand comes more from the idea of ‘asking
value for money’ than the other sophistications
offer. After all, people tend to put comfortable seats
and hygienic conditions in toilets to different flavors
of popcorn, fizzy colas and cream filled doughnuts.
And since there’s not a huge difference between
the ticket prices, (this does not include the multiplexes
that hike the fares exorbitantly for new releases and
issue measly amounts of popcorn and cola as compensation
for fare-rise) why not watch it at the comfort of multiplexes,
it is natural to think.
Besides, it’s also an undeniable fact that the
run of few movies (intelligent or otherwise) depend
on the urban audience, the ones who visit multiplexes
precisely. As a result small time Tamil movies like
Poi Solla Porom and M3V and even a mainstream movie
like the Madhavan starrer Yavarum Nalam has had a decent
run. Movies that tap the urban audience market are dime
a dozen in Hindi with the recent example being the successful
In related news, in the first week of April, a rare
occurrence was witnessed by the media. No, it is not
the selling bid of the Slumdog Millionaire kid Rubina
Ali by her father that was caught red-handed in a sting
operation by a British tabloid. The two king khans of
Bollywood, Shahrukh and Aamir, came together announcing
the industry’s joint decision to stop selling
movies to the multiplexes that screen Bollywood movies.
After displaying their fighting tactics often by taking
potshots at each other in all visible forms of media
including the blogosphere, the Khans finally appeared
together wearing the best of their plastic smiles announcing
the world that they don’t hesitate to put their
past behind for a cause. It is also said in the media
circles that Karan Johar’s intense negotiations
with both the Khans has led to their joint public appearance.
Bollywood is furious with multiplex owners refusing
to relook into revenue-sharing policies. Producers are
demanding for a 50 share in the revenues from multiplexes,
which the latter is refusing to oblige resulting in
a gridlock of distribution and release of new Bollywood
movies. Both sides seem to be stubborn which could further
lead to a stagnation of new releases. Given the fact
that Hindi films have an all-India reach, whether this
crisis will cripple the industry or do good to boost
its finances remains to be watched!
And for us, the regional audience, with the announcement
of the soon to be launched PVR cinemas and other couple
of multiplexes coming up, the oh-so-conservative Chennai
will not be far behind from other metros in hosting
multiplexes. By then, let us hope that our directors
and producers would have tapped the potential of Tamil-speaking
urban audience and that Tamil cinema would witness creative
freedom breaking free from its budgetary constraints.
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