Film industry divided as multiplexes run while single screens join strike

MUMBAI/DELHI: The one-day strike called by the Film Federation of India and member associations, protesting the 10.3 per cent service tax on the film industry, got a lukewarm response with multiplexes staying open.

Most single screen theatres , however, remained closed all over the country. The single screen theatres in Delhi, though, did not join the strike.

On Wednesday, the split in the film industry on the issue of strike came to light as FFI was in support, while Film and TV Producers Guild had distanced from it.

PVR Cinemas Group President Pramod Arora said, " What strike? All cinema halls including multiplexes and single-screens in Delhi are open and people are coming in."

Agreed Cinemax chief executive officer Sunil Punjabi, “We, multiplex owners, discussed the strike issue at the industry-level and unanimously decided to go ahead with the screenings,” he said.

In retaliation, FFI president Vinod K Lamba said that the strike was a success. “Out of a total of 10,500 plus cinema halls in India, there are a mere 750 multiplexes. In Delhi, there are less than ten single screens.

All single screen theatres in Bengal, Assam, and the Northeast states remained closed and 500 artistes, cine technicians, exhibitors etc held dharna and road meeting at Chowringhee. The All TV and Artistes Guild in Bengal stopped work for 30 minutes to express solidarity with the strike.

A total of around 800 persons observed dharna in Chennai where there was no film activity, according to senior FFI member L Suresh. Similarly, there was no activity in Kerala and Karnataka.

Lamba also said all single screens in Uttar Pradesh including Saharanpur, Bareilly, and Varanasi were closed. In Maharashtra; only the multiplexes remained open.

Multiplexes have eaten into the share of the single screens and contribute a major chunk of India’s box office business.

In the CP Berar, CI and Rajasthan circuit, the bandh had little effect. The Central Circuit Cine Association (CCCA) had issued a circular calling off the proposed bandh.

CCCA President Santosh Singh Jain said, “When the finance minister has already woken up to the travails of the industry and has promised to look into the matter, it does not make sense to go ahead with the bandh.”

In Mumbai, the main hub of the film business, laboratories, post-production studios and workers affiliated to several associations did not stop work.

On the workmen front, workers associated with Cine and T.V Artistes‘ Association (CINTAA) and Film Studios Setting and Allied Mazdoor Union have reported to work.

The film industry have several bodies that are in conflict and are divided on issues. There are four main film associations - the FFI, IMPPA, Film Producers Guild, and Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers of India (AMPTPP).

Explains CINTAA President Dharmesh Tiwari, “While FFI and IMPPA are together, the Guild that comprises big-ticket film producers and AMPTPP constitute the other group. Film workers have no allegiance whatsoever to anyone. They are always with producers who provide them employment and today all concerned producers are working. Hence our workers are working too.”

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