HYDERABAD: The craze was palpable as thousands of people trooped outside the ticket booking counters of Prasadz for picking up tickets of Baahubali.
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Less than an hour later, police had to move in to cane charge the fans as the push came to a shove. The situation was similar at almost all the cinemas where advance booking began for the much-anticipated multi-lingual. According to an estimate, the movie is releasing in nearly 100 cinemas Friday. Seeing the craze, black marketeers have stepped in and are even using social media to do business. Two were arrested at the Vishwanath Cinema in Kukatpally for selling tickets in black. Tickets priced at Rs 150 in multiplexes, are being sold for anything between Rs 500 and Rs 4000.
“We have never seen this kind of craze with people willing to shellout even Rs 5000 for a ticket. Previously, big-ticket films like Pawan Kalyan’s 2013 blockbuster Attarintiki Daredi and Balakrishna-starrer Legend had tremendous demand but even at the higher side, black ticket prices reached only Rs 1000,” said a dealer, in the know about black marketing.
Asked about demand for movies with actors like NTR Jr and Ram Charan Tej, he quipped, “Vaallaki antha scene ledu (They don’t have that kind of craze).” In fact, many illegal traders claim to have an agreement with theatre owners, who agree to sell them tickets in bulk, so that they can make a fortune by selling them in black. They also cheekily admit to taking advantage of the hype generated by the movie.
Many traders have moved to Facebook asking people to bid for tickets. This reporter, posing as a buyer contacted Raghu, a tout.
He claimed to have tickets for the show at Rajadhani theatre in Dilsukhnagar and said, “I have sources inside the theatre, it (selling tickets in black) will not be a problem. Just make sure you bring the cash with you. It will cost Rs 600 per ticket.”
An individual named Gayathri Vns claimed on Facebook to have dozens of tickets for Baahubali on Friday at Raghavendra theatre in Malkajgiri and Rajdhani theatre in Dilsukhnagar. The person had no photograph or any other personal details, with which he/she could be identified, a clear indication he/she may be involved in black marketing.
Touted as India’s most expensive film, Baahubali has generated tremendous hype across the country and has even found recognition from International media, with reports about the film in the UK’s Guardian and Gulf News, among others.
“Advance booking started today and people turned up in thousands, so we had to take police support but thankfully, no untoward incident took place. On the day of the film’s release, we have been asked to provide extra security for Imax as a precautionary measure,” explained Amarnath of Agile Security, which provides security for Prasadz multiplex.
‘Baahubali - The Beggining’ will release in around 1600 screens across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the highest for any film in the region. The film is also releasing in Hindi, Tamil and it is estimated that it will release in 3500 screens across the country.
“Such practices have been taking place at single screens but to ensure this doesn’t happen at Prasadz, we made it a policy to hand out just two tickets per person at our booking counter. For online booking, one can only book up to four tickets at a time,” informed K Kishan of Prasadz Imax.
Nanda Gopal, a die-hard fan of actor Prabhas, put things in perspective when he said, “Baahubali is not just a movie -- it is an event. It is the pride of all Telugu people and just like one does not compromise on spending for wedding, money becomes secondary for events like this. This is the reason I don’t mind spending more as I want to watch the film before anybody can ruin it for me.”