Feature: Movie buffs edgy with dry spell at multiplexes

MUMBAI: It’s been almost one and a half months since movie buffs in India have not had any new big movie release at a multiplex near them.

The cinema exhibition industry in India is growing at 10% per annum driven by multiplexes, which have been expanding rapidly in major metropolitan cities as well as second and third tier cities. The multiplex culture did not take off too well when it first began due to high tickets prices ranging from Rs 150 to Rs 300. This amount wasn’t exactly what an Indian movie goer was used to paying at that time for a ticket as single screens tickets were priced for a minimum of Rs 30 to a maximum of Rs 100 for the dress circle. Now people are shelling out Rs 300 – Rs 350 per ticket to watch a film at a multiplex.

However, with no films releasing at the multiplexes since 4 April, film lovers right from kids to senior citizens are now getting restless and impatient especially with the summer holidays underway.

While consumer spending power was on the rise over the last few years, it gave an impetus to the multiplex culture, wherein tickets are priced upwards of Rs 150 per head. Watching a movie at a multiplex has now become like a family outing since most multiplexes are in malls hence providing a 360 degree experience with eating out, shopping and snacking.

At this time of drought in the Hindi film industry, Businessofcinema.com spoke to some avid movie buffs from different age groups and different walks of life, regarding this issue. Here is what they had to say:

Aurus corporate chef Vicky Ratnani, who watches every new release, says, "We are really missing out on our family outing. We are addicted to watching films at the multiplex. Our Sundays are mostly a movie followed by lunch or dinner. We are too pampered now by the multiplexes, even though ticket prices are steeper compared to single screens I don’t think we will be able to sit through a film at a single screen theatre unless it is renovated and the comfort levels are the same as the multiplexes."

His wife Piya adds, "It’s a place where I can go to when I am feeling really frustrated or miserable, leaving my brains behind and just chilling out. I am really missing the movies and I have even tried renting out DVDs but it’s not the same and there is no way I would go to a single screen theatre with my child."

Nineteen year old college student Kapil Gulati who watches films every Friday says, "I am just waiting for the films to release, I love watching films at the multiplexes with my friends and hanging out at the mall after that. The single screen theatres are boring and don’t provide the same comfort level. Also the kind of crowd that comes to the multiplex is better."

Homemaker Namrata Sainani, who is in her early thirties, says, "Life has become very boring since the films have stopped releasing, I can’t think of any other alternative for entertainment since I love watching films. I am desperate for some films to release, since 99 has released, I am going to watch it because it’s been too long since I went to a multiplex after the films stopped releasing."

Godrej deputy general manager marketing Abhijeet Bakre, who likes to relax on holidays with his family watching films at a multiplex, says, "Thank God for the IPL, that’s keeping me busy. Even though I don’t watch every movie just for the heck of it, I like watching the bigger banners and I like watching it in the comforts of a multiplex because you have multiple choices and it’s a cleaner place to take your family. If the strike continues I would rather watch films on a DVD than go to a single screen theatre but yes, if it is a really good film then maybe I would think of going to a single screen like say, Chandan Theater."

Nikita Tiwari, all of 11 and an ardent fan of Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur, is a total Hindi film buff. Like the others, she too is waiting for some good new films to release. She says, "Since I am not going anywhere for a holiday this summer I was planning to watch a new film every week but there are no films that are being released. I am waiting for Shahid Kapur’s Kaminey to release."

Purplewrap.com CEO Ritu Soni and a mother of two little daughters says, "Movies are the best way to keep the kids busy. Since the summer holidays are going on now, it’s very unfortunate that the strike is on. It’s really bad timing according to me."

Sangita, who’s around 25 and works as a maid, watches films mostly in the single screen theatres but once a month she manages to go to the multiplex to watch a good film. She says, "The tickets in the big theatres are very expensive so my husband takes me there only once every month when he gets his salary, I wait for that day every month, but this month we have not gone because there are no good films releasing in the big theatres. I love the good comfortable seats there but the food like popcorn and samosas are very expensive there."

Seventy-three year old grandmother Bhunu Kumari loves going to the multiplex with her grandchildren Ratul and Rhea and she enjoys the popcorn and ice-cream there as much as they do. She says, "I love the big comfortable seats there and the toilets are so clean. When we were younger there was no such thing; we watched films in small theatres where there were sometimes rats running around the place. Those theatres were dark and dingy. Even though I haven’t been to those theatres since the past few years, I don’t know if they are the same or whether they have changed but I would not like to watch films there now I only like to watch movies at the multiplexes."

A big fan of chocolate boy Imran Khan, five year old Maanavi, who loves going to the mall and the movies says, "I have been telling my mamma to take me for a movie because I love to have cheese popcorn with Pepsi and watch a film but she says that they are not showing any movies in the theatre because some people are fighting for money. I want to watch the Hanna Montana movie very soon."

All said and done, the time has surely come for the multiplexes and the producers to come to some sort of an agreement for the sake of the public.

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