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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Bathinda

Mulitplexes give Ferozepur a miss
Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar, Hindustan Times
Ferozepur, September 21, 2013
First Published: 11:29 IST(21/9/2013)
Last Updated: 11:31 IST(21/9/2013)

Even as Punjabi enterprise dreams of creating Punjabi films that can beat Bollywood in terms of content and sophistication, Ferozepur is likely to miss out on the spectacle. There are no multiplexes and the cinemas that brought the staple fare to life in the 1970s and beyond, have shut down.


Of course, the fear that the investment is not safe in this border town has led to no investment from the multiplexes.

Local film buffs and cinema lovers are thus deprived of this major source of entertainment. People involved in the trade have also become jobless over the years.

Of the four traditional cinema halls in the city, three have shut down, while a single hall is working, even as its losses mount by the day.

The Dhani Ram Theatre and the Joshi Palace lie demolished.

Before 1971, when the Hussaniwala, a joint Indo-Pak Check Post (JCP) at Indo-Pakistan border, ten km from Ferozepur,  was functional for trade and traffic, a number of Pakistanis, being great fans of Bollywood, used to throng the local cinema hall. However, after the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the JCP was closed down which adversely hit the local cinema theatres.

There are several reasons for the non-operation of the cinema halls. Perhaps, the major one being the high taxes imposed on the screening of films. Another, as said earlier, the perception that the investment in the border town is not safe. Also, perhaps the fact that may be the business model did not make sense for the large chain of multiplexes.

"Even in tough times, we used to manage to eke out a profit by renting the cinema hall to production houses of movies, especially Punjabi film crew," said Ram Chander, manager Amar Talkies, one of the oldest and now the only Cinema Hall, working in Ferozepur. There were less than 100 people in for a show, he rued.

"People have to move to other cities for entertainment purposes. Even Punjabi Cinema is rising day by day but there is no rise in terms of theatres in Ferozpur, a border town," Ferozepur resident Sunil Kataria, TV host/writer.

"Government should shower some special incentives for investors to set up Cineplex or multiplex," said Gulshan Monga, a member of local Bar council.

"The cost of fuel is higher than the tickets to watch a movie for them because they have no option but to travel to Moga, Kotkapura or Ludhiana," Gurpreet Singh Bhullar.

"The closure of the cinema business in Ferozepur, like other trades is enough to prove that successive as well as present governments have failed to nurture this historical town," said Ranjan Kant Bassi, a local trader.

"In the name of entertainment, we only had cinema theatres in this border town. Over time, even this has been snatched for several reasons," Ramesh Sharma, a social activist.


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