Sunday, November 28, 2004

Kannada film industry shoots itself in the foot

Kannada film shoots itself in the foot
Finanical Express

BANGALORE, NOV 27: Money, politics, emotion and violence are the filmi potboiler ingredients in the Kannada film industry imbroglio which is now being termed a blot on the IT capital’s international image as a cosmopolitan city.

However, the nearly four-month-long drama being played out here is more like a television soap with no end in sight and new twists and turns every week. On Monday, November 29, a meeting of all parties concerned - producers, directors, distributors and exhibitors - is planned in the hope of a consensus.

So far, there is little evidence to prove that the three week moratorium (reduced from an earlier seven weeks) on the release of non-Kannada films has benefitted the Kannada industry: though the Kannada Directors Association president SC Prasad, who is firm on the moratorium stand declares that the Kannada ticket collection scene has been “a little better”.

But, “Even if you slap a year-long moratorium on non-Kannada films, I will not watch a Kannada film,” rages an irate Kannada working woman, voicing the feelings of a large majority.

Calling the moratorium “morally and legally worng”, Bollywood actor- director Sanjay Khan says “It will do more harm than good to Kannada films.” Instead, he says, what the government should do is provide incentives for the industry so that it can bloom, also urging the industry to be more competitive and “let the horizon be larger”. The incentive idea is supported by exhibitors who have suggested that the entertainment tax collected on non-Kannada movies be made available for the production of Kannada films.

But beneath the din is unnoticed poignancy. The Kannada film industry is in dire straits. Unlike other language films which find a large faithful following in their own states, Karnataka is in the unique position of being an amalgamation of languages, says well-known theatre/film actor Prakash Belavady whose father was a make-up artist for Kannada films.

“From a purely market logic, the protests look perverse, but the reason is emotional, since Kannada is spoken only in a small part of Karnataka and the market is too small, despite the talent available”, he adds.

Exhibitors who are afraid to defy the moratorium are losing a total of between Rs 25 to 60 lakh per day, according to differing figures.

Filmgoers declare that it is the poor quality of Kannada films that keeps people away. “In the 70s and 80s when we were young, we watched a lot of good Kannada cinema. Today’s films by their very nature exclude the urban and the educated, which shrinks the market for Kannada films,” notes film buff D Rao, an computer engineer. He feels, “It is the fear of change, like with public sector unions that opposed computerisation but have now adapted. Kannada film will also learn to survive once it accepts change.

Karnataka Vs Rest of India

• On August 13 all theatres in Karnataka are asked to observe a moratorium of seven weeks on the release of non-Kannada films. This is seen as a move to give a fillip to the struggling Kannada film industry.
• 1200 theatre owners in the state down shutters in protest. Most of them screen non-Kannada films and are worried that the moratorium will hurt revenues
• In response to a petition filed by the exhibitors, the Karnataka High Court rules that the moratorium has no legal standing.
• However fear of violence and damage to their theatres prevents exhibitors from defying it
• Some attempts are made at defying the ban and films such as Bride and Prejudice and Veer Zaara are heavily advertised. The Bride screening never happens. Veer Zaara is screened under heavy police protection only to be suspended later.
• Meanwhile other language film industries propose a ban on shooting Kannada films in their respective states
• Thespian Rajkumar, a champion of Kannada, leads a dharna at Vidhana Soudhaa and hands over memorandum to Chief Minister Dharam Singh. The 5000 strong rally turns unruly and chappals are flung around. Monday’s meeting will hopefully bring a resolution.


Post a Comment

<< Home