Karnataka film crisis: Non-Kannada film exhibitors bear the brunt

BANGALORE: The on-going crisis in the Kannada film industry, following the Karnataka Film Producers Association's (KFPA) decision to block all non-Kannada films has put film exhibitors in Karnataka, especially those who rely on non-Kannada films, in a tough spot.

A section of the film exhibitors who met State chief minister to seek support had to return empty handed with CM only remarking that he'd look into the matter. 

According to reports, the Kannada Rakshana Vedike and Sasmara Sena Vedike pelted stones, damaged equipment and tables, a TV set in the offices of The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, damaged the front portion of the Movieland theater. They then attacked the offices of Sandesh Enterprises a film production and distribution office of Pal and Basha, protesting against the screening of non-Kannada films in the State. The theatre was screening Telugu film Ghashana.

As reported earlier, KFPA has requested all non-Kannada film distributors to refrain from releasing non-Kannada films starting 13 August following the agitation by film producers and directors who had been demanding an increase in the present entertainment tax levied on non-Kannada films.

The Kannada film fraternity has also been demanding assurance that all Kannada films be shown in all theatres in Karnataka for at least 12 weeks a year, abolition of show tax and turnover tax on exhibition of Kannada films, a seven to 12-day delay in release of non-Kannada films from the day on which they are first screened in other states and a single-window-system for permission for filming.

A rally had been called by the KFPA and the Karnataka Film Directors Association (KFDA) last week in which prominent personalities from the Kannada Film Industry participated. Release of non-Kannada films such as Vasool Raja MBBS (Tamil), Andaroo Dongale Dorikithe (Telugu) and the Kyon Ho Gaya Na (Hindi) in the State were effected.

Today's stalemate follows the fate of yesterday's meeting held at the residence of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) president S Ramesh, which had met to decide to form a 27-member committee including exhibitors, producers and distributors, failed to yield results. Some exhibitors and distributors met Parvatamma Rajkumar, wife of Karnataka film icon Rajkumar, on Monday evening to seek her approval for release of non-Kannada films this Friday but failed to get a positive response as per media reports that add that the exhibitors and distributors could expect some support from minister and producer HD Kumaraswamy.

Meanwhile, a meeting has been called tomorrow between exhibitors and theater owners to discuss the issue. "We really don't expect the theatre owners exhibiting Kannada films to come tomorrow. They don't stand to loose anything, it is only the theatres that exhibit only non-Kannada films that will be affected by the delay in release of non-Kannada films. Earlier we had not responded to their protest call against show tax, why should they support us now?" asks a theater owner.

As many as 95 per cent of the theatres in Karnataka screen either Kannada films or non-Kannada films. Only 5 per cent theaters show both Kannada and non-Kannada films. A number of owners of theaters, which exhibit non-Kannada films, are considering shutting shop permanently.

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