MUMBAI: As of now there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel in the altercation between multiplexes and Hindi film producers and distributors. In what has been the worst phase in the history of the film industry, the disagreement between the two parties is being sceptically looked upon by industry professionals in the chain.
Industry professionals Businessofcinema.com spoke to opine that the strike should be called off at the earliest and that they should unite to tackle other bigger issues plaguing the film industry like entertainment tax and piracy.
The Hindi film industry provides employment to thousands of people and each and everyone who is connected to it is eagerly waiting for the strike to end.
Speaking to Businesofcinema.com, director Kabir Khan, who is ready with his film New York, is waiting for the strike to be called off so that he can release his film and then start on his next.
He says, "We are ready with the film but are just waiting for things to get sorted out because at the end of the day everyone suffers. The public too will lose the interest of coming to the theatres if this carries on. The strike has delayed the release of many films because of which at the end of the day everyone suffers."
Fashion designer Neeta Lulla too thinks that this fight should come to an end now. "A lot of productions have come to a standstill, there are not many new project starting work right now because of the ongoing strike," she says.
On the other hand, art director Bijon Das Gupta is of the opinion that though the strike could be one of the reasons for new projects coming to a standstill, the major reason was the recession, which started much before the tussle. A lot of money in the industry has been blocked because of which film deals are getting cancelled. He adds, "As if the recession and the films not doing well was not enough, the strike is another addition to the plight that the industry is now facing. Both the parties are losing out a lot and in the process it is affecting the people working for the industry."
He further says, "I see a lot of unity among the producers for the first time. This just goes to show that they have been really stressed about this problem. Having said that, personally I feel they are wasting so much time and losing out on a lot of revenue in the bargain."
Cameraman Baba Azmi also hopes that things get resolved soon so that people get to see films since it’s the holiday season and movies are one of the biggest form of entertainment for the public. He says that the multiplexes’ idea of buying the films and releasing them themselves is not the solution. He says, "That is definitely not going to work."
Concurring with Azmi, music composer Suleman opines, "If that is what the multiplexes think will work then they are wrong because there will be no quality cinema then. If they don’t come to an agreement then they are going to suffer big time."
According to Suleman, 50 per cent is a very fair deal. Showing his solidarity to producers, he says, "I know the kind of effort and money that goes into making a movie or just shooting a song and the fate of the film is decided in those three hours on a Friday. The producers lose out a lot more money than the multiplexes do if a film does not do well."
Bijon adds, "The multiplexes are not losing as much as the producers do because they have other ways of getting revenue. For example a bottle of mineral water, which costs Rs 10 outside costs about Rs 30 – 40 in a multiplex. The same stands true for coffee, tea and popcorn. We pay around Rs 75 for the car park, so why don’t they pay the producers what they are asking for?"
However, action director Mahendra Verma says that the issue has now become a clash of egos. He says, "Everyone is suffering because films are ready but they are not releasing so finances have stopped rolling and there is less work happening."
Singer Udit Narayan says that films and filmmaking is a joint effort. "We need to work in unity and sort out the differences as soon as possible because it is very difficult to survive alone without the support of the other."
Steady-cam operator Nitin Rao, on the other hand, feels that whoever is strong at the moment will fight for it but it’s the small time filmmakers who are suffering the most.
However all of them concur on the point that it’s about time both parties sorted out their differences and got together to fight bigger issues like questioning the government about the amount of entertainment tax piracy that is being paid to them and combating piracy. According to a recent industry report by ASSOCHAM, the government currently collects over Rs 15 billion as entertainment tax from consumers. Besides, the issue of tackling movie and music piracy should be top agenda as that is burning a hole into all the sectors in the entire value chain.
While one can only wait and watch what the outcome of the revenue sharing tussle will be, what remains to be seen is whether the industry comes together to fight larger issues plaguing the film industry as fervently as they have fought this one.