CHENNAI : Vijay’s long-awaited political thriller, Sarkar, may be getting released on Diwali to packed theatres, but Ranee Paradise, a Thanjavur theatre, won’t be one of them, after declaring that they will not be screening the film due to pressure from the local distributor to sell the tickets for the first few days for a price higher than two hundred rupees.
The theatre’s spokesperson also added on Twitter that it wants to screen good films in an ethical manner and that “actor Vijay should practise what he preaches”. The theatre’s owner Santhosh said more when we reached out to him: “The distributors of the film, La Cinemas, has the rights in Trichy and Thanjavur, after purchasing it for a huge sum of Rs 9 crore.
They have increased the minimum guarantee amount, which is supposed to be paid by the theatres to around Rs 40 lakh. This amount is really huge and unrecoverable by any legal means. We hadn’t paid anywhere close to this amount even for big films like Mersal and Endhiran. The distributors have been pressurising the theatre owners of our region to sell the tickets for a higher price in black, to recover this amount.”
He goes on to allege that Vijay Makkal Iyakkam (VMI) is behind the scam. “The theatre owners who don’t want to get their hands dirty have been asked to hand over tickets to VMI’s district leader, Vijay Saravanan, who would supposedly sell the tickets on their behalf. For instance, the local theatres, Jupiter and Shanthi, and GV Complex have sold roughly twelve thousand tickets through VMI for prices upto `600 per ticket,” Santhosh alleges. “Though they had put up housefull boards, these tickets were sold through VIM coupons in front of the theatre’s gates.”
Santhosh says it’s disheartening to imagine an actor who preaches so much about justice has turned a blind eye to this issue. “Stars like Vijay have a strong family audience base, but due to the enormous ticket price, they are actually afraid to come to theatres and the first day tickets in some theatres sometimes go unbooked. To be fair, I am not sure if Vijay is aware of this, but if he doesn’t regulate such malpractices, it will be a huge injustice.”
Ma Vetri Vel, his father, and the producer of the film, Arputha Theevu, says all his efforts to register an official complaint or bring the issue to SA Chandrasekar’s notice have been in vain. “I’ve been a part of Tamil cinema for 40 years, but in recent years, our industry is heading in a wrong direction. When I filed a complaint to Trichy Distributor Association’s Secretary against the high prices, he didn’t even take a step to send a verification team to the theatres, and despite being a good friend of mine, SA Chandrasekar hasn’t done anything about the issue.”
When we contacted SA Chandrasekar about this, he denied knowledge about such practices, and refused to comment on the issue.Meanwhile, Rakesh, the owner of Vettri Theatres in Chennai, states that the situation is not statewide and it might be a local problem in the Southern district zones. “We haven’t faced any pressure from the distributors asking us to sell tickets at an illegal price. According to law, multiplexes can charge a maximum price of two hundred rupees per ticket; so we’ve fixed that as the price for the first few days. We did the same for Kaala, and Mersal. The ticket prices will go back to our usual rates from Monday.”