Be it Hindi, Marathi, Telugu or Bhojpuri films, everyone has to get good numbers. There is nothing against any kind of regional cinema. We are all trying to get a solution that works for everyone, as we want the industry to grow.
One needs to understand that the timings of film screenings need to be worked out only based on the content of films. A big film starring Shah Rukh Khan would obviously get better show timings than the kind of films I make. I would be foolish to think that my films – which may be new parts of hit franchises, but starring newcomers – would get the same kind of timings as films starring Shah Rukh, Salman Khan or Aamir Khan. There has to be some sort of reality check.
The government is trying to work out timings at screens according to the density of the Maharashtrian population. They want numbers, and even multiplex owners are happy to oblige if they end up getting numbers. For instance, if the density of Maharashtrian population is high at Sandhurst Road, and if the halls there can be filled to capacity for a prime-time Marathi movie, that’s good for the multiplex owners too.
If a Tamil film releases in Mumbai, it will do well in areas where the Tamil population is significant – such as Aurora cinema in Matunga. Marathi films have also done well at Hindmata and Plaza, as the Maharashtrian population in these areas is high.
There is no point in screening a Marathi film in a non-Maharashtrian locality at prime time and having empty cinemas. Release a film in Shivaji Park, Lalbaug, Parel and other such pockets if you want maximum returns. That is what everyone– the multiplex owners, film producers, exhibitors, distributors and even the government --wants.
If more people come and buy tickets, the government gets entertainment tax. Entertainment tax is higher in Maharashtra than in any other place in the country, so the government would benefit from it.
Mukesh Bhatt is a Hindi film producer
(Part of a series in which prominent personalities voice their opinion on the debate over Marathi films being screened during prime time at multiplexes in Maharashtra)