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Movie-goers suffer as deadlock persists

June 2009
Movie-goers suffer as deadlock persists

Movie-goers suffer as deadlock persists

There seems to be no end in sight to the tussle between Indian film producers-distributors and multiplex owners, which began on April 4. The two parties are locked in a dispute over revenue sharing and all efforts to reach a settlement, have so far been in vain. Even the two mighty Khans—Shah Rukh and Aamir—have failed as negotiators.

Producer Vashu Bhagnani who has postponed the April release of his home project, Kal Kissne Dekha, said, "Multiplex owners are demanding an unfair share in the profit of a movie, despite the increase in the production cost and the global recession effect on the entertainment industry."

Bhagnani has a point. Recession and tight liquidity conditions have forced Bollywood to go for cost cutting on several projects. Says filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt, "It is difficult to find buyers, and committed cost cannot be honoured. Ninety per cent of the films have been put on hold while those on the floors have been held up due to the slowdown," he said.

However, according to another filmmaker, Suneel Darshan, "Bollywood is not isolated from the crisis. But it isn't as severe for us as it is for the rest of the world. A few corporate houses were rash enough to up the prices for stars and film budgets. They're now panic-stricken. I took a sabbatical in 2008 to reassess the situation. But now I look forward to a busy 2009.” Sajid Nadiadwala, too, is not spending sleepless nights.

Anyway, the current deadlock has delayed the release of at least six major Bollywood films and two Hollywood releases. Indian movie buffs have had to make do with reruns of old Hindi hits and some Hollywood fare. In all, there are reportedly around 80 films waiting to be released. The last film to release before the strike, on April 3, was Nagesh Kukunoor’s 8x10 Tasveer.

Finally, in the words of producer-director Vikram Bhatt, "The cash crunch has created a panic in the market. We're in a mess.”

Here’s hoping that the mess clears up fast.

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