Till a few years ago, a horrendous film would at least complete a one-week run at the theatres. Till last year, an atrocious film would at least complete its first weekend. Till a couple of months ago, an awful film would release in the morning and get discontinued towards the evening. Today, it's a new phase: No show. The prints reach the theatre, but lack of audiences compels the management of the theatre to call off the show at the eleventh hour.
That the situation has only worsened is not news anymore. Earlier, we used to blame the ill-maintained theatres for driving the audiences away. Whom do we blame today? Recession? Exorbitant ticket rates? Bad quality of films?
I've been talking to a lot of industry bigwigs since the past few weeks. The questions are common: Why have people stopped coming to theatres all of a sudden? Aren't most Indians passionate about Bollywood? Then why this sudden decline in film business?
Recession is not actually the cause. If recession was the 'culprit', RAB NE BANA DI JODI and GHAJINI, released in December [in fact, immediately after 26/11], wouldn't have done historic business across the length and breadth of the country. So what ails the industry?
Everyone is unanimous that piracy has made deep inroads and is eating away our business. Today, in a city like Mumbai, you can buy a DVD for as low as Rs. 50 [$ 1] and you can watch five movies [yes, it's a 5-in-1 combo these days] in the cool comforts of your home. Who'd be interested in spending Rs. 300 [per person] for a ticket at a plush cineplex?
So how do we need to tackle this menace? Let's educate the viewers about piracy. Let's mobilise support and shoot showreels with all leading actors, right from Big B, SRK, Aamir, Akshay, Hrithik, Saif, Shahid to Aishwarya, Kareena, Katrina, Priyanka, and screen it on TV, theatres, internet... in fact, use every platform available today to reach out to viewers.
Side by side we need to come under one umbrella [producers, distributors, exhibitors, actors] and aggressively take up this issue with the government. If we are losing a chunk of our investment, so is the government. Times are changing and even our netas have to deliver results and if they see a united film industry catching the bull [piracy] by the horns, they would have to act and act fast.
Also, let's concentrate on our movies. Let's not churn out anything in the name of different/hatke/meaningful/avant garde cinema. Only then can we breathe easy!