Films everywhere travel the producer-distributor-exhibitor route to be screened.
Not in Arunachal Pradesh, if that film happens to be produced locally.
In this northeastern state, film producers have to hire a cinema hall and sell their own tickets to entertain people with their creativity.
But hall owners follow the standard practice for mainstream Hindi and English movies. This, the Film Federation of Arunachal (FFA) says, is not done in a state that is building a Film and Television Institute of India – the third after Pune and Kolkata – in Itanagar.
“Screening our films is a costly affair. It works out to a third or fourth of the cost of producing an entire film in digital format,” Shambo Flago, a film director, told Hindustan Times.
Mwngkar – The Realisation, the film in Arunachali Hindi that Flago directed, cost Rs 15 lakh to make. One of four made in the state in 2015, it mixed comedy with seriousness to give a message against polygamy practiced by a few tribes in the state.
“Twin capitals Itanagar and Naharlagun have three 150-seater cinema halls. To screen our film, we had to hire the hall by paying an average Rs 200 per seat per show upfront. In the bargain, we got the entire bunch of tickets to sell,” Flago said.
The hall owners defend this arrangement. “There aren’t too many takers for local films,” a manager said, declining to be quoted.
“We know we will lose money, but we love to tell stories through films,” FFA president Chopa Cheda said.
The federation has asked the state government to frame a policy so that – as in adjoining Assam – it becomes mandatory for exhibitors to screen films in tribal dialects for a minimum period of time per year.
“We are working on a policy that will take care of many aspects, including the problems of local filmmakers,” Arunachal Pradesh chief secretary Ramesh Negi said.
The policy is expected to include incentives for local as well as mainstream filmmakers who shoot a sizeable portion of their films in the state.
Locals say Bollywood films shot entirely or party in the hills and valleys of Arunachal Pradesh have made good business. There have been only two though – Dev Anand’s Yeh Gulistan Hamara (1972) and Rakesh Roshan’s Koyla (1997).
The second film starring Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit helped promote Tawang as a major tourist destination.
The third major production – Rangoon starring Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut – is being shot by director Vishal Bharadwaj in the Pasighat area of the state.
But Mera Dharam Meri Maa, Bhupen Hazarika’s Hindi feature film made for the Arunachal Pradesh government in 1979 was not a commercial success.
Before Koyla, Tawang and adjoining West Kameng district formed the backdrop of Frontier Student, the first locally produced film in Arunachali Hindi by Tara Chatum in 1989.
The first film from Arunachal Pradesh in a local dialect – Monpa – was Sonam by Assam-based Ehsan Mujid. It won the Rajat Kamal in 2005.
After a huge gap, four films including Flago’s Mwngkar were made in the state last year. The others were Gyumri in the Monpa dialect, Bismeh in Sherdukpen dialect and Itanagar Zero Km in Arunachali Hindi.