Reddy asks Karnataka Govt to sort out film ban mess

BANGALORE: Terming the present seven-week 'ban' more of a 'law and order' problem than a legal one and an emotive issue, Union information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy has asked the Karnataka government to sort out the mess and to see to it that new non-Kannada films were not barred from being released in the State.

The seven-week ban on non-Kannada films was imposed by the Pandey Panel comprising Kannada producers.

Reddy was in Chennai yesterday to address an All-India conference on regional films organised by the Southern India Film Chamber of Commerce.

Media reports say that "gentle pressure" was exerted by the Union minister when he spoke to Karnataka CM Dharam Singh. A meeting of the Pandey Committee has been convened on 13 September and the non-Kannada Film Exhibitors and Distributors Associations have decided to appeal to the panel to review its decision on the seven week moratorium on the release of non-Kannada films and to ask the government to roll back its decision to cut the entertainment tax on non-Kannada films from 70 per cent to 40 per cent.

In the meantime, an unsigned faxed press release received by last week, attributed to minister HD Kumaraswamy, the son of former prime minister Deve Gowda and the president of the Karnataka Cinema Theatre Owner's Association (KCTO), a statement mentioning that any film with which producer and director S V Rajendra Singh Babu is directly or indirectly associated would not be displayed in any theatre in Karnataka for the next five years starting 8 September, 2004 till 8 September, 2009.

The release terms the statements as wild, derogatory, inflammatory, disturbing and provocative. It goes on to say that the disturbing remarks and utterances made against the KCTOA secretary Dhananjay KV on 4 September 2004 and also his continued assault against theatre owners have necessitated this step. The press release also states that the association had considered a life ban on Rajendra Singh Babu's films. This release has been widely quoted in the media.

Reacting to this, the producers association has demanded an apology from HD Kumaraswamy saying that comments against Rajendra Singh Babu were not just against one individual but also against all producers and directors of Kannada films.

As per reports in the media, Kumaraswany has said, "No unsigned Press release issued in my name is valid. I am responsible only for press release signed by me."

Meanwhile,Prana and Yahoo, two new Kannada films, which were released yesterday, opened to a lukewarm response in Bangalore and have been termed a non-event by some sections of the local press. Four of the 68 theatres that announced closure have reopened to weak response. The theatres were screening re-runs of Kill Bill, Runaway Jury and new movies Out Of Time and Man Of Fire. The theatre owners state that they have not withdrawn support from the KCTOA but that they could not see their theatres closed and wanted to remind cine-goers to go to theatres.

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