A crucial meeting of the high-level government committee will be held on Monday to decide on amendments to be made to the Karnataka Cinemas (Regulation) Act, 1964.

The committee comprises senior bureaucrat M.V. Jayanthi as chairperson, representatives of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) and Karnataka Film Exhibitors’ Federation (KFEF), and officials of the Home Department and deputy commissioners of all districts.

President of KFEF K.V. Chandrashekar said that according to exhibitors, the Act was an impediment to modifying single-screen theatres to meet changing expectations of the audience.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said that the government had formed the committee after the KFCC submitted a memorandum in October 2011 seeking amendments to the Act.

‘In a dilemma’

Alluding to the recent closure of the 36-year-old Pallavi theatre, which is on an area of 40,000 sq ft, Mr. Chandrashekar said that if there was further delay in modifying the rules and regulations of the Act, more theatres would close down.

“Single-screen theatre owners in the city are in a dilemma. They are wondering whether to run the theatre for a pittance of a profit or down shutters,” he said.

In view of dwindling profits, the proprietor of Pallavi theatre had decided to bring down the structure to make way for a 10-storeyed super-speciality hospital, Mr. Chandrashekar said. According to K. Basavaraj, an employee of the theatre, financial problems and a change in ‘cinema-viewing culture’ forced the theatre’s closure.

Actor Jaimala is upset with the closure of Pallavi theatre as Premada Kanike, which featured her, was the first film to be screened there.

She said that in the past, if one theatre was demolished, according to rules, another had to be established in its place.

Changing expectations

With the entry of multiplexes, people’s expectations had changed. There was a sea change in the cinema-viewing culture in urban areas.

Today, apart from watching a film, people also enjoy other activities such as window shopping that multiplexes offer and single-screen theatres don’t.

“Upgrading single-screen theatres is the only solution to the problem. But the rules restrict modernisation of theatres,” she said.

Thomas D’Souza, vice-president of the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, said that while over 450 single-screen theatres were shut down in the State, as many as 34 theatres were closed in Bangalore alone. “At one point of time, there were over 1,200 theatres in the State,” said Mr. D’Souza.

Underlining the need to amend the Act, Mr. Chandrashekar said that had the government permitted theatre owners to use at least 20 per cent of the total space available to construct commercial complexes, many theatres would have survived. “Stringent rules have forced owners to close down theatres,” he observed.

Ms. Jayanthi had sought suggestions from deputy commissioners on the amendments needed, during three successive meetings. “We hope the committee will provide relief to exhibitors by recommending amendments to the Act,” she said.

The film chamber of commerce is also worried about closure of single-screen cinemas across the State, and in particular in Bangalore.

“A meeting will be held to discuss the crisis, and pressure will be put on the government to amend the law, which is the root cause of the crisis,” said president of KFCC B. Vijayakumar.

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