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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Big screen injustice

Navleen Lakhi , Hindustan Times   February 26, 2013
First Published: 10:32 IST(26/2/2013) | Last Updated: 10:33 IST(26/2/2013)

They say this is one of the rare occasions when most of the Oscar-nominated films have also been hits — be it Argo, Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln. But, how many of you fret about not having had the chance to view them in the tricity’s theatres because of few screenings at odd hours? Zero Dark Thirty, for instance, had only three shows in two theatres, coming down to one show in two weeks of its release. And to think the film has a strong city connection, having been shot here last year!

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Now that English language films are released in India, why do they still not garner attention? Are distributors being money-minded in not showing eagerness to give them more show-time? Or is the tricity’s audience not yet ready to embrace world cinema? HT City tries to find the answers for the sake of film buffs.

“When films don’t release in India at the speculated time, people start downloading them, leading to piracy. When they finally do release, the audience is no longer interested. Such a response creates a problem in getting the films shows,” offers Darshan Aulakh, a city-based line producer who handled some of Zero Dark Thirty’s aspects including crowd management and seeking permissions for local shoots.

Agrees Dolly Ahluwalia, a costume designer, film and theatre person belonging to Chandigarh, who also designed the costumes for the recently-released, Midnight’s Children. “When films such as Midnight’s Children are released, Chandigarh hardly offers any shows. A person eager to watch these films has to perhaps travel to Delhi to do so,” says she.

If one were to explore the amount of money generated by these films, it would perhaps explain their scarce screen presence. Shares Anant Verma, director and business head, DT Cinemas, Chandigarh, “In the city, we have only three screens where we prefer to show regional films instead of English films. This is because the response to English films is not always encouraging, unless it’s a Superman or a Harry Potter movie. Also, youngsters prefer to watch Hindi and Punjabi films. At the end of the day, these are the movies that do business.”

Apart from slow business, the reason for fewer screens given to English films also points to the audience’s taste, or the lack of it, reasons Gurvinder Singh, the director of National Award winning Punjabi film, Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan. “My film only saw a release in Ludhiana and Jalandhar, but not Chandigarh. I can’t understand why the distributors weren’t convinced to release the film in the city, which is known to have an intelligent audience. In fact, many Chandigarh residents told me they were looking forward to watch the film.”

Meanwhile, the city’s film buffs rue the missed opportunity of watching some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Guneet Dogra, 20, a city-based independent filmmaker and film-lover, says, “Hindi film director Dibakar Banerjee once said it is the audience’s mistake if worthy films do not do good business. Viewers mostly want to watch mindless entertainers, not necessarily those that leave an impact on the mind. Of course, multiplexes are also interested in doing business alone. In such a case, these films can’t get shows.”

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