Multiplex rip-off? HT’s spot check on whether a drink-popcorn combo costs more than a ticket
Responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed with the Bombay high court on April 6, on the inflated cost of food and beverages (F&B) inside multiplexes, the Maharashtra government had recently assured the court that it would setup a committee and frame a policy to look into the issue within six weeks.
The PIL was filed by Mumbai resident Jainendra Baxi and the matter was heard by a division bench comprising justices SM Kemkar and MS Karnik.
The petitioner noted that multiplexes stopped cinema goers from bringing food bought outside the theatre onto the premises, which, he said, was a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, which guaranteed the right to life.
The petitioner said that the restriction on bringing food bought outside the theatre could affect senior citizens and people on dietary restrictions on medical grounds.
Even as a policy is awaited from the state government, Team HT visited top multiplexes in the city to check the cost of food and beverages inside these entertainment complexes and to see if one could carry food bought outside the theatre inside multiplexes. Here’s what we found.
PVR Icon, The Pavillion, Senapati Bapat road
Though reputed as one of the most plush, expensive and strict multiplexes in western Pune, the security allowed entry with a tiffin box and water bottle, but did not allow a bar of chocolate to be carried inside. It was retained by the security with the reporter’s name tagged on it so that it could be returned.
At the food outlet, a one litre bottle of water (in-house brand Diva) was being sold at Rs 60 as opposed to the standard price of Rs 20 outside the multiplex for popular brands including Bisleri. Samosas (two) were being sold at Rs 100, regular popcorn at a minimum of Rs 200, cold coffee at Rs 110 and a regular glass of Pepsi at Rs 150. All these prices were far above the standard rates outside the multiplex.
E-Square, Ganeshkhind road
The security did not allow the tiffin box and asked the reporter to deposit it with a name sticker on it. At the food stand, sandwiches were being sold at Rs 80, a small bottle (500ml) of Schweppes mineral water at Rs 40 and popcorn starting at Rs 90, with the jumbo box priced at Rs 190.
There was no security check and the multiplex allowed water bottles and tiffin boxes inside the multiplex. Surprisingly, cinema goers could refill their bottles at a filtered water cooler available inside the multiplex. The prices at the food stand appeared to be revised recently and a packet of two samosas was priced at Rs 60. Beverages such as Red Bull and bottled water, and wafers were being sold at MRP.
The security did not allow food items bought outside the theatre to be carried inside the multiplex and wanted it to be deposited at the entrance gate itself. At the food court, regular popcorn was being sold at Rs 200, one sandwich at Rs 150 and coffee at Rs 130. The only items available at MRP were cookie cakes at Rs 10 ( kept hidden from sight), Zero Coke and bottled water.
Inox Amanora Town Centre, Hadapsar
Tiffin boxes were not allowed inside by the security, but those with diabetes and blood pressure could request and carry food in. A plate of nachos cost Rs 200.
Cinepolis, Westend Mall, Aundh
The security allowed entry only after checking the reporter’s personal bag for bottled water and food.
The ‘regular combo’ of popcorn and large Coke (~600ml) was available for Rs 420, which was being offered at a discount of 25% from the original price of Rs 550. The ‘kid’s combo’, which included regular popcorn, medium coke and a bar of chocolate, was priced at Rs 315. Zero Coke and Schweppes mineral water were being sold at a maximum retail price (MRP) of Rs 60 each.
Reactions from multiplex owners
‘We will abide by court verdict’ says Kothrud City Pride owner
While Carnival and PVR multiplexes declined to comment, there was no response from the managements of Cinepolis and Inox multiplexes even as the E-Square management pleaded ignorance about the issue.
Prakash Chaphalkar, who along with his brother, owns five multiplexes in the city, including Kothrud City Pride declined comment as saying that the matter was sub-judice. He, however, added, “We will abide by the court’s verdict.”