RAIPUR: Tribals of Chhattisgarh's Abhujmad region, a naxal hotbed having scant mass media presence, can now watch films in a mini-theatre set up in the area, an initiative to connect them to the outside world.
The first theatre has been set up at Basing village in Abhujmad region of Narayanpur district by the state police and there are plans to develop more such facilities in the backward area soon, a police senior official said.
The mini-theatre was inaugurated Thursday at the village, located around 400 km from Raipur, and locals came out in large numbers to watch the popular Bollywood film "Baahubali" on the big screen, Narayanpur Superintendent of Police Jitendra Shukla told PTI.
"The idea is to connect tribals of Abhujmad to the outside world which has been unknown to them largely because of Maoist activities," he said.
After a discussion with locals, the 100-seat capacity theatre has been named 'Basing Silema', which in the local Gondi dialect means 'Basing Cinema', Shukla said, adding that villagers can watch films there free of cost.
Television and mobile phones are almost non-existent in the Abhujmad region, which is home to various aboriginal tribes, and except for the local market held once in a week, people do not have access to any means of entertainment.
Even the Narayanpur town does not have a cinema hall or theatre, he said.
Besides films, villagers would now also be able to watch television channels on the big screen through the direct to home (DTH) service, said Shukla, the brainchild behind the move.
The plan is to screen films and also documentaries on agriculture, education, sports and patriotism, he added.
A gaming zone has also been developed in the theatre premises where people can play table tennis, carrom and chess.
The facility has been set up under the special central assistance wherein around Rs 30 crore is being given to each naxal-affected district to provide public infrastructure and various services, the SP said.
The theatre at Basing has been set up at a cost of nearly Rs 15 lakh and will cover around 13 villages in the vicinity, he said, adding that seven more theatres will be set up in the region through the fund.
Shukla said the village heads have been asked to form a committee of people, including youth and children from their areas, to manage and operate the theatres and any additional assistance, including security and funds, will be provided by police, he said.
Rajni Usendi, a member of the Orchha janpadpanchayat which covers Abhujmad area, welcomed the initiative.
"The smiles on the faces of tribals were quite evident when they watched 'Baahubali' movie. It shows how a little thing can make them happy and excited," she said.
This was probably the first time that people from the interior area watched a movie, Usendi said, adding the initiative will have a positive impact on Abhujmad's future.