Bollywood producer Pahlaj Nihalani, credited with launching actors like Govinda, Chunky Pandey and Suniel Shetty, says the profit-driven attitude of multiplexes is leading to the downfall of quality cinema.
"Multiplexes are gradually eating away good cinema and new talent. They are charging exorbitant ticket prices and show only those movies that have strong cast. Other movies with fresh and experimental subjects wither away after just one or two shows," Nihalani told IANS in Chandigarh.
He added: "The public is getting less and multiplexes are earning more. In fact, this is a big jolt to the entertainment industry and a major reason why most of the movies are not doing well these days. Once a movie reaches the multiplexes, a distributor or producer, who treats a movie like his own baby, has no say."
Nihalani also demands a ceiling on the ticket prices of multiplexes. "A middle class person is totally out of reach of a multiplex screen. State governments should come forward and introduce some ceiling price, like, say, multiplexes could not charge more than Rs.100 for a movie ticket," he said.
"Corruption has also entered at various levels of cinema. Now a good script or subject does not decide the fate of a movie, but it is in the hands of a critic or multiplex owner. One cannot rely on these critics, who give three- or four star-ratings. The sad part is that after reading their analysis, people decide whether to go for a movie or to buy a pirated CD," stated Nihalani.
Nihalani was here to promote the filmmaking and acting institute, Dream Whistlerz. He is on the board of the institute.
About young talent, Nihalani said: "Every individual on this earth has a dream, but unfortunately people do not find the right medium or direction to fulfil it. Some lose their way in between and some switch to other careers.
"The entertainment industry has grown very big. Earlier, people moved to Mumbai, but now they do not need to leave their place. Times have changed and so many avenues are available in TV, radio and in different departments of filmmaking at every place."
Nihalani cautioned the youngsters about unscrupulous people. "Many people from our film industry have also opened such acting or filmmaking schools, but they don't even teach basics. They are selling false dreams and ruining the future of our children," he said.
About acting talent in this part of the country, he said: "The talent that we have in Punjab you will find nowhere else. Superstar Dharmendra's family in Bollywood is one example. Moreover, Punjabi language, music and songs always have a universal appeal and attract others."
Nihalani, who had made the blockbuster "Aankhen" with Govinda and Chunkey Pandey, is now planning "Aankhen-II" with director Anees Bazmee.
The ace producer also expressed his anguish over the big corporate houses and international names venturing into filmmaking.
"I have a strong feeling that genuine single producers will soon make a comeback. One cannot be a master of so many things at the same time, he has to concentrate on only one aspect if he wants to succeed," said Nihalani.
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)