Content and revenue challenges ahead for Maharashtra exhibitors

While the Maharashtra government has proposed to make it compulsory for multiplexes to screen Marathi movies during prime time, the exhibitor fraternity has doubts on the feasibility. Most feel having such compulsions would not only affect business, but not guarantee any improvement in the popularity of Marathi films.

Rahul Puri, managing director, Mukta Arts Limited, says, "I support the need to push local culture into the public's view but disagree with any law that affects the ability of a free market to operate. It is true that large studios sometimes get pride of place for their films with exhibitors due to their muscle and strength, but that is something that exhibitors readily agree for as it is in their business models best interests. Finally, it should be up to the exhibitors to decide what is best for their business."

He adds, "If local films are good enough, the public will demand these and, therefore, exhibitors will play them. If, as the government and other bodies have argued, local films are 'better' than Hindi fare, then what is the need to push them into prime-time slots. If the collection is good, the free market will ensure they get proper places. Forcing exhibitors to run films that do not collect at prime-time will hamper their profitability, and the exhibition sector as a whole will suffer."

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