[Reader-list] film distributors,, mamta

mamta mantri bawree at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 15 12:25:49 IST 2006

hello all,,,
As an effort to understand the phenomenon of hit and
flop films, I thought it wiser to meet the
distributors who showcase their films here. So I met
Mr Kishor, an intelligent-Mallu-not-part of this
gimmick, who supplies Bhojpuri films to Super and
Shalimar. He also distributes Malayalam films (his
latest film was ‘Tanmatra’- Mohanlal). He urged me to
watch that film, something on a different plane
altogether. He shared the same opinion about the
audience and the place and theatre like any other
interviewee would have talked. However, he talked of
new words like ‘poor maintenance of the theatres’ and
‘limited thinking of the audience’. 
So where does the war between the exhibitor and
distributor go? He says the exhibitor decided what
kind of film should be shown (more explanation later,
it became clear, where I met Sheru). 

So, Mithun is the favorite hero. He is the Amotabh of
the poor. The main factor in a hit film is the hero.
Audience here likes physical fights, involving the
body, but not interested in guns or other
technological-Matrix forms of fights. There is a
strong craze for music here. There are 8-10 songs in
any Bhojpuri film (he personally does not like it).
Rural setting is very important for a Bhojpuri film to
work. Any film shot outside the village is a flop. But
when it comes to Hindi films, Indian culture should be
the highlight. A film appeals then. 

The conversation with Kishor found full manifestation
in my brief talk with Sheru. He has been into this for
the past 12 years; he has inherited this from his dad.
He is the exhibitor for Royal and Nishat theatres. The
owners (he calls them ‘landlords’) rent the theatre to
him, and he displays the films that he buys from the
distributors from NAAZ building, the bastion of Indian
film distribution. So, technically, Sheru is the
‘exhibitor’ and he rents the films from distributors
like Kishor to show it at these theatres. The first
comment that he made was that it was because of
Bhojpuri films that they have got saved, otherwise no
means of earnings, because how many times can you show
a particular film (a film, on an average, gets
screened in 6 months in any of the theatres on Play
House). He calls a film a sugarcane, and said, “Kitna
ras nikalenge?” Another word that I came across was
“KHURAK”, which means food, in the above context. 
Apart from the routine stuff, he said that the last
show is the best, usually house full, because the
audience has finished their daily routine. He talked
about Manoj Tiwari, who was in Mumbai to perform for
an awards show. He asked for the Air Conditioner to be
shut down, because he could not bear that. Such is the
star cast and the audience. 
Comedy films like “Judwaa”, “Saajan Chale Sasural”,
sad films like “Tere Naam”, Kyon Ki” are also hits.
Romances like “Saajan”, “MPK”, “HAHK”, etc are hits.
“Kranti” and “Coolie” were major hits in their time
and ran fro more than 25 weeks in the second run.
Jeetendra doesn’t work here because he has worked in
social and family films for a large part of his
career. Sunil Shetty has flopped in this circle after
DHADKAN, because he has stopped working in action
films after that, so he is no longer is a part of
popular consciousness. If you are not positively
visible on the ‘a grade’ film circuit, you lose touch
here as well.   
An experience about K3G. One of the men got upset with
the film and left mid way, and said, “SRK got thrown
out of the family by his dad, and he could settle so
very easily in London. How did he get the money? My
father also threw me out of home. It is so very
difficult to come to Mumbai and survive. We have to
think so many times to go to UP, and he can settle so
very easily in London, what crap!!!” 

What else hampers their business? Cable for sure has
affected them. The location is also a hindrance. The
proximity of 5-8 cinema halls in an area divides the
audience, and therefore harmful for the exhibitor. But
it proves to be a boon for the distributor. 

He then has a complaint to voice, which he hopes that
I would forward to the right authorities. None of the
big stars want to do action films and/or meant for
single screens. Heroes are interested in overseas,
family oriented and multiplex oriented films. Our
voices, the single screen people, need to be heard.   


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