This is not the first time Sandalwood is highlighting the issue of films in other languages taking over the screens of a successfully-running Kannada movie. This time, the release of the big-ticket movie, Prabhas-starrer Saaho, last weekend has adversely affected the shows of Muniratna Kurukshetra.
The film directed by Naganna, starring Darshan, Ambareesh, Arjun Sarja, and Ravichandran, was doing well in its fourth week. However, its number of shows were brought down, even though the makers had requested the theatre-owners not to take the step.
Now, with the Prabhas-starrer being declared an average hit, multiplexes are back to increasing the number of shows for Kurukshetra. The team, having lost the weekend and the Ganesha festival holiday, has not taken kindly to the earlier decision.
Rockline Venkatesh, who is distributing Kurukshetra, says this has been the fate of the Kannada film industry. “If this the case of a big film, I understand the state and the problems of other producers, who have struggled to bring their film to theatres,” he says.
“There is a way to curb this situation, for which we need the interference of the state government, and a cap on the ticket prices,” he adds, pointing out that the prices of tickets of films in other languages releasing in Karnataka is higher than Kannada films, and exhibitors get attracted to this, releasing it in as many screens as possible. “Last week, they encashed Saaho, next it might be Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy. When the film in another language has a house full show in Bengaluru, the high ticket pricing enables the exhibitors to earn a profit that is three times that of a Kannada film. The only way to curb this is to put a cap on the ticket pricing,” explains Venkatesh.
This issue of ticket pricing has been raised earlier with the government. “We have raised the issue to the government last year, and requested them to come up with a uniform rate, and go by the rule that has been set in other states. But our issue was not heard, and the government did not take any action,” he says, adding, “Kannada film industry will keep facing this problem until and unless this issue is sorted. In spite of the subsidy given by the government, and whatever initiative the Kannada industry takes, films coming from other languages hijack the final result of a good Kannada film.”
It is said that Orion Mall, which had given 14-15 shows to Kurukshetra in the first week of its release on August 9, gave 30 shows to Saaho on its release day on August 30. Citing an example of the single-screen theatre, Urvashi, Venkatesh says, “These theatres, irrespective of the language, look to have a big release every week, only to cash in on the huge deposit of at least Rs 15 lakh they collect from each film. They don’t even see whether the film is doing well or not, and take it down without any prior information.”
Calling Bengaluru the only city where viewers can simultaneously see the release of a film in five languages, Venkatesh says getting a good opening here is a good sign. “But if you are looking only for revenue, without bothering about the growth of the regional language films, it is a setback to producers and distributors, who want to get associated with big projects here,” he adds.