Vijayawada

The buzz falls silent here

VIJAYAWADA, ANDHRA PRADESH , 27/06/2015: Rama Talkies, the one of the surviving single screen theatre at Gandhinagar in Vijayawada. Photo. Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar.   | Photo Credit: CH_VIJAYA BHASKAR

Gandhinagar, considered the ‘Mecca of film distribution’, is now a shadow of its past, as just a handful of companies are involved in the business.

Once abuzz, with more than 70 companies selling and buying films, Gandhinagar now wears a deserted look. Barring the first-day-first-show frenzy, there is nothing much to talk about.

Thanks to the invasion of technology and changes in rules in the trade involving producers, distributor and exhibitors and modernisation of theatres, the usual hustle-bustle in the once buzzing hub has fallen silent.

“The introduction of district-wise business has killed film distribution. The concept was meant to help producers meet the production cost in the mid-eighties. Now, everyone is a distributor,” rues septuagenarian Agnihotram Narasimha Chary, a veteran in the field.

With five decades experience, Mr. Chary, who works as manager of Hansa Films, says the shifting of film trade to Hyderabad led to job losses. “Film distribution is now restricted an elite few who decide the fate of Tollywood,” he says.

Take a stroll along the lanes and by-lanes, and one finds more than a dozen cinema halls, screening old as well as new movies. Though some single-screen theatres downed shutters owing to losses, others are giving tough competition to even to multiplexes. A classic example is Sailaja Theatre, which is undergoing a makeover.

“The first three days [Friday, Saturday and Sunday] are crucial in modern-day film business, as they decide the collections. It has now become difficult to meet expenses. Several theatre owners, who are not able to run the show, are leasing out the halls,” says a theatre manager on condition of anonymity.

Grandhi Viswanath, managing director of Urvasi Cine Complex, presently Inox, says since multiplexes have the wherewithal to provide state-of-the-art facilities, managements of single-screen theatres focus on better amenities to attract viewers.

Introduction of online booking system, better air-conditioning, spacious parking and cafeteria are among the facilities provided by single-screen theatre managements. “Improved amenities are the only way to attract audience,” says R.V. Bhupal Prasad, proprietor of Navrang theatre.

Mr. Chary, meanwhile, is candid in his observation. “Earlier, watching movies in theatres was the only form of entertainment. Now, youngsters have several options. Owing to rampant piracy, even the latest flicks are available at a click of a button,” he says.

Gone are the days when film buffs used to flaunt their craze for heroes at new releases. Interestingly, fans used to decorate theatres and take pains to get tickets for their friends. But, for the last few years, the euphoria has been missing at single-screen theatres. The reason: influx of swanky multiplexes.

Another reason for dwindling collections is the change in format of releasing movies. “Earlier, four theatres used to screen a movie with two prints. After the introduction of digitisation, new films are released in as many theatres as possible, thus affecting collections,” Mr. Viswanath says.

“Despite the ups and downs, highs and lows, the show must go on,” signs off Chary, with moist eyes.

Vignettes

*Vijayawada is (yesteryear) Navrang Theatre where English movies were screened and English etiquette was observed.

*It is Ayyadevara Kaleswararao, the first Speaker of Andhra Pradesh and Kakaraparthi Bhavanarayana, a businessman-cum-educationist. It is is Poorna Hairstyles, which popularised ‘step-cut’ in the seventies.

*It is choultries built by our forefathers for the benefit of pilgrims. It is Chunduru Venkatareddy and Maganti Suryanarayana, the well-known spiritual souls.

*Vijayawada is Welcome Hotel and its annexure Eskimo, the popular AC restaurant known for Udupi cuisine. It is Balanthrapu Rajanikantarao, an artiste, musicologist and broadcaster.

*It is K.L. Rao, one of the best engineers India ever produced, and Iyyanki Venkata Ramanayya and Pathuri Nagabhushanam, who promoted the library movement.


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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 9:47:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/the-buzz-falls-silent-here/article7366422.ece

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