Last week three Bengali films, ‘Kaberi Antardhan’, ‘Dilkhush’ and ‘Doctor Bakshi’, finally witnessed their much awaited theatrical release. However, despite positive response from the audience the show counts of these films will be drastically cut short in order to give maximum space to ‘Pathaan’. Dev’s ‘Projapoti’ which is still running successfully, even after 50 days of its release, will also have to face the same fate.
Tollywood stakeholders raising their voice for Bengali films are irked to see how the distributors of ‘Pathaan’ have put a clause for single screens. The distribution house have made it clear that in order to screen ‘Pathaan’ the single screens have to give all the shows to SRK’s film and that’s what made Bengali filmmakers furious.
Kaushik Ganguly whose film ‘Kaberi Antardhaan’ released on January 20 shared with ETimes this distribution model for Hindi big releases will only hamper the betterment of Bengali cinema. “I can understand the pressure these single screen owners are facing. They paid full salary to the employees for the past two years during the pandemic even if there was no film business. I have no complaint against them. If I was in their position maybe I had done the same. But I think we need a proper policy for film business model in West Bengal. I know ‘Kaberi Antardhan’ will suffer like other Bengali films. Single screen owners have been told no other films can be played if they want ‘Pathaan’. The Bengali industry has been patient in this particular issue for years but now we have to take a stand. If a Bengali film which was doing great business in 40-50 halls suddenly faces this harsh treatment in its own state then we have to admit that there’s something wrong,” explained Kaushik whose latest release starring Prosenjit Chatterjee in the lead has received positive response from the audience.
When asked about the probable solution to this issue, the National Award-winning director insisted, “We have to stand united and stop this distribution model. If needed the government has to intervene. Bengali films should be given at least 50 per cent shows on prime time.
Meanwhile, the distribution house of ‘Pathaan’ has claimed that this model for big Hindi releases in nothing new and this has been going for years. On the other hand, the exhibitors in Bengal claim that this is a strategic business decision and this has nothing to do with hurting Bengali cinema’s interest.
However, there are exceptions like Navina, Sar Theatre and Ashoka who have decided to continue with ‘Projapoti’ and ‘Dilkhush’ instead of playing only ‘Pathaan’. Prabir Roy, the owner of Ashoka cinema hall says, “These Bengali films have given us houseful shows till Sunday. So why should I pull down a Bengali film which is running successfully? I didn’t think it right and that’s why decided not to accept the terms ‘Pathaan’ distributors had put in place. Yes, I wised to run the Shah Rukh Khan film but they won’t negotiate shows with other Bengali films. So, I said no to them.”