This is the best of times. This is the worst of times. We could be forgiven for borrowing this from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. But in the wake of the Dilsukhnagar bomb blasts, these words perhaps best illustrate the irony of Hyderabad life.
On the one hand, a good number of people are scared of venturing out to watch a movie. And on the other, some are only too happy to go, because tickets could be had for any movie without any problem! The latter, of course, are in a minority.
The fact is, movies, particularly in multiplexes, are not running to packed houses ever since the twin blasts. That is what managers at the various multiplexes complain about these days. As a matter of fact, just surf through bookmyshow.com and check for availability of tickets of your favourite movies. You will not be disappointed.
Shilpa, Manager, PVR Cinemas, admits, “After the Dilsukhnagar blasts, security around the whole city has been beefed up which in one way is troubling customers. Occupancy in theatres has been drastically low over the last couple of weeks.”
Distributors and producers too have been disappointed with the poor footfall. “We are assuring best service and distributors and producers tell us to improve the occupancy,” reveals Shilpa. The occupancy at PVR Cinemas on a weekday has been less than 50% for most of the shows compared to an average 75% earlier. The occupancy during weekends is just about 60% compared to an earlier average of 90%.
The PVR Cinemas manager believes that the increased security has had an impact on all multiplexes and malls. “Due to the high alert, our security guards have become very strict. We ensure that nobody carries electronic gadgets, laptops, headphones, or food.” By her own admission, customers at times are getting so annoyed that they end up in a verbal duel with the staff.
“When we inform them that they cannot carry such stuff inside, some are okay with it. But a few of them argue with us, even though we advise them to leave their belongings with the safe deposit,” she complains.
The situation is no different at the Prasads. T Srikanth, general manager, Prasads IMAX, says business has been affected by 25-40% due to the increased security check up and hoax calls. “We think people are a lot worried after the bomb blasts and the security measures are also troubling the common man. One has to cross at least six security points before he enters a movie today!” he points out. According to him, weekends too have been quite poor in terms of revenue collection and occupancy.
An official at the Inox, on condition of anonymity, said pretty much the same. On the other hand, MM Saleem, manager at Tivoli Cinemas, Secunderabad, disagrees.
He feels that the problem is due to lack of good and high budget movies this summer. He also cites the ongoing examinations as a possible reason for the declining footfall. However, he admits that the public has been disturbed due to increased checking on roads, but says, people should be satisfied with the security measures. “After all, it is for their safety,” he points out.
The Andhra Pradesh Film Chamber of Commerce president Tammareddy Bharadwaja admits that revenue collections in the city have gone down of late but refused to link it to the Dilsukhnagar bomb blasts, hoax calls or security beef up. Citing the typical Hyderabadi attitude, he says, “It is not right. Hyderabadis are not worried. The other day when we were watching a movie, there was a threat call and the bomb squad had come. None of us actually moved out. We watched the movie.”
Pointing out that the collections are usually low during Shivaratri except for the last three years, he reasons that the reduced footfall “could be due to the ongoing exams. Since teenagers are tied up with exams, obviously their parents too would not go to watch a movie.”
But actor-producer Lakshmi Manchu, whose home production Gundello Godari opened to rave reviews last week, doesn’t mince words. She believes the shadow of terror threat has had an impact. “The number of movie-goers has definitely gone down since the Dilsukhnagar bomb blasts took place in the city. Apart from that, there are some people who are going to theatres and a bomb scare makes them head back home,” she says. According to her, the same thing happened with her latest film Gundello Godari.
“A lady, who went to a local theatre to watch the film, called me and told me about a bomb scare that was announced during the screening of the film and people were asked to leave the theatre half-way through the film,” Lakshmi Manchu recalled.