VIJAYAWADA: Stating that the government is not vindictive against the Telugu film industry, Cinematography Minister Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani) said theatres were raided only after giving them ample time to renew licences and obtain the required permits.
The minister chaired a meeting with film distributors and exhibitors at the Secretariat on Tuesday, and discussed movie ticket pricing, approval of benefit shows, extension for renewing/obtaining licences and no-objection certificate (NOC) from the concerned departments, and other related issues.
Speaking to media persons, the minister said the distributors and exhibitors appealed to the government to increase the ticket rates. “The government has already constituted a committee of officials and stakeholders from the film industry to fix the movie ticket prices as directed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court,” he said and asserted that the government only intends to make entertainment accessible to every person.
He added the committee will meet soon and decide the cinema rates after several appeals from the stakeholders. The committee was constituted under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary-Home with government officials and Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce representatives, exhibitors and distributors as its members.
Recalling that a meeting was held with the film industry representatives at the Secretariat on September 20, Nani said the government had then appealed to them to obtain licences, NOC from the fire department and B-forms from the revenue department.
“As nearly three months have elapsed since the meeting, the law took its course because there was no response from the theatre managements.” Only those theatres that had not applied for the licence renewal were raided, he added.
As per the available information, the government found that 130 theatres in nine districts were operating in violation of norms. “While 83 of them were sealed, penalties were imposed on 25 others. Owners of another 22 theatres shut down operations as they are not having valid licences,” he said.
Asserting that the government is against using discretionary powers and will follow the Acts and rules, the minister said the rules will not change to benefit or target an individual or a movie. “There are instances of the previous government giving tax exemptions to brother-in-law (TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu’s brother-in-law Balakrishna), and denying the same to Chiranjeevi’s movie.”
He added he is unaware whether Chiranjeevi has sought an appointment of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Responding to actor Siddharth’s comments on the issue, the minister said, “As he lives in Chennai and pays taxes there, I don’t know how he is connected to ticket prices in AP. His statement may be intended for Chief Minister Stalin and his ministers or Prime Minister Narendra Modi...”
Don’t know which kirana shop Nani analysed: Minister
On December 23, actor Nani commented on the reduction on movie tickets and said, “What is happening is not right. Today, somewhere I saw (the ticket rates) are Rs 10, Rs 15, Rs 20. It does not make sense. It is illogical and an insult to the audience. It is not logical if the counter of a kirana shop looks bigger than the counter of a person (theatre owner) providing employment to 10 people running a theatre.”
Responding to Nani’s remarks, Cinematography Minister Perni Venkataramaiah said on Tuesday: “I don’t know which kirana shop besides which cinema hall he analysed. I will respond when I know. If he gave a press statement, I think he might have given it in a responsible manner...”