Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan has turned out to be a blockbuster, with the film raking in over Rs 200 crore globally in two days. However, single-theatre owners in some parts of the country are reportedly having a tough time, dealing with the Yash Raj film’s distributors.
Also read: ‘Pathaan’ review: Bollywood roars back with SRK’s seat-edge spy thriller
As per reports, Pathaan has been released on over 5,500+ screens, and the numbers are only increasing. Not everyone is happy, though. In West Bengal, filmmakers are up in arms against Pathaan distributors for putting up a clause with single-screen owners. leaving no room for regional films. The clause allegedly mandates single-screen theatres to show Pathaan on all screens.
Bengali films’ run affected
Bengali films such as Kaberi Anthardhyan, Dilkhush, Doctor Bakshi and Projapati were released recently. Kaberi Anthardhyan and Projapati, in particular, have received good responses from critics and the audience, but with Pathaan storming the screens, the regional films had to be pulled down.
BJP leader Mithun Chakraborty and TMC MP Deepak (Dev) Adhikari (both actor-cum politicians)-starrer Projapati, which was running to packed houses, has been pulled down from around 30 single-screen theatres across the state.
Similarly, National Award-winning director Kaushik Ganguly’s Kaberi Anthardhyan, released on January 20, has found limited screen space.
“We need a proper film policy in West Bengal. I know that Kaberi Antardhyan will travel like other Bengali films. Single-screen owners have been told that if they have to run ‘Pathan’, no other film can run. The Bengali industry remained silent on this issue for years but now we have to take a stand. If a Bengali film, which is doing good business in 40-50 halls, is facing such poor treatment in its own state, then we have to admit that there is some issue. Bengali films should get at least 50 per cent of shows on prime time, and the government should intervene if needed,” Ganguly said.
Also Read: Oscars 2023: RRR’s ‘Naatu Naatu’ among 3 nominations for India
A section of cinema hall owners says the issue should be seen from the business perspective, not emotionally.
“At the end of the day, it’s business. They (Bengali movie industry) knew the release date of Pathaan. They should have avoided the release of their movie coinciding with Pathaan,” said Arijit Dutta, owner of the Priya Cinema.
This policy is nothing new, said another movie hall owner on condition of anonymity, it has been there since the time of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayaenge (1995).
MNS warns multiplexes in Maharashtra
Multiplexes in Maharashtra have taken off Marathi films to make way for Pathaan, irking Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Ameya Khopkar.
“Pathaan should be screened in the state, along with Marathi films. First priority in Maharashtra should be Marathi films and other fims. If Marathi film does not get a place in theatres, then we will be forced to protest. If someone breaks those expensive facades at multiplexes, then it is not our responsibility,” warned Khopkar.
In Bengaluru, Kannada films get good run
However, in Bengaluru, Kannada films are getting a good number of screens. Multiplex at Orion Mall in Bengaluru had 41 shows for Pathaan on the first day of its release, but the numbers dropped to 21 the next day when Kannada film Kranti, starring Darshan, was released.
Also Read: People have stopped trusting filmmakers: AR Rahman
According to industry experts, it’s a mutual agreement between the distributor and the exhibitor to screen X number of shows on a given day. KV Chandrashekar, president of Karnataka Exhibitors Association, said, “A distributor has all the rights to demand that all the shows be given to his film from an exhibitor. However, even the exhibitor has the right to say no. Distributors cannot force theatre owners. The worst thing that could happen is that the distributor might refuse to release the film if a particular theatre owner doesn’t comply with his demand. That is up to them. The exhibitor has a choice.”
According to KV Chandrashekar, there is no rule or bylaw in Karnataka that stops a distributor from making such demand and at the same time, theatre owners are not bound by any laws to play regional films alone.
‘There is no rule that we should only play a particular film for all shows. If a distributor puts such demands, then we try to give them 2 or 3 shows in a day, but one show will be for the local language film,” said Nagendra, owner of Bhoomika theatre in the heart of Bengaluru.