Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has often been under fire for seeming to agree with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on each one of his campaigns vis-a-vis the Marathi agenda.
But Raj’s latest one, on compelling multiplexes in the city to exhibit Marathi films during prime time, does not seem to find much resonance in Mantralaya. Speaking to a group of reporters at a dinner organised by new Rajya Sabha MP Avinash Pande, Chavan questioned the feasibility of showing Marathi films at prime time both for the multiplexes and the Marathi manoos.
“The viewer of Marathi films is not the kind of person who can afford the exorbitantly priced tickets at multiplexes. Moreover, an outing at a multiplex often goes into thousands for a single day or evening. I do not think the Marathi film viewer would consider that worth his while. He is more likely to prefer watching a Marathi film at a theatre like Bharatmata [that is, single screen theatres where ticket prices are lower],” Chavan said. Multiplexes often work in other overheads into ticket prices.
While the CM indicated the government would not interfere with the multiplexes’s decision either way (unless the MNS campaign turned violent), he said, “Pure economics is the consideration here. How many, even, of Bollywood films have had a silver or golden jubilee in recent years? So how much is the life of even a good Marathi film? Just about seven days or ten at the most on a single screen. Moreover, Marathi film producers, barring exceptions like Mahesh Manjrekar, cannot afford the overheads in multiplexes; they have only those ten days to recover costs. After that, they have to quickly sell the DVD rights to prevent or offset any losses.”
But Chavan stopped just short of dismissing Raj’s campaign altogether, adding, “But, of course, it is an emotional issue.”
The CM also said he was considering reserving one day in a week as “non-visitors’” day at Mantralaya which has, only on Monday, issued new rules for separate queues for women visitors.
“Sometimes there are too many visitors at Mantralaya getting in the way of work. If we ban visitors for only one day a week, it can do wonders for working non-stop and clearing files.”
Chavan clarified that that, though, was only some loud thinking at the moment for it would require consensus from all his cabinet members, many of whom had an unending stream of visitors each day.