Sandalwood breathed a sigh of relief this weekend as the state budget on Friday announced a move that addresses one of their concerns: the decreasing number of theatres that screen Kannada movies.
While presenting the budget, chief minister Siddaramaiah announced that the government would encourage entrepreneurs to build cinema halls to screen Kannada movies in districts and taluk headquarters. In fact, he said the government would give them incentive to build cinema halls.
The disappearing number of single-screen theatres in Bangalore has been worrying Sandalwood a lot. In this backdrop, Siddaramaiah's announcement comes as a shot in the arm for the film industry. And Sandalwood personalities are only all too happy about it.
HD Gangaraj, president, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, said it was a long-pending demand and the move would help Kannada movies get viewers. He asserted that the number of theatres to screen Kannada films is not good enough right now.
Film director SV Rajendra Singh Babu said the government should encourage film producers who have incurred loss to construct theatres at taluk and district headquarters. "The government should provide land for lease and provide loan facilities for the construction of cinema theatres. It will be a great help if the government sanctions subsidy for the construction," he said.
If all goes well, about 500 Janatha cinema halls will be constructed for the screening of Kannada films. As of now, there are about 600 theatres in the state. Among them, only 200 have been screening Kannada films owing to stiff competition from other language films.
"With many exhibitors (cinema theatre managements) preferring to screen other-language films, Kannada films lack theatres for screening. I want the government to make screening of Kannada films mandatory at the proposed cinema halls," Babu opined.
One needs Rs25 lakh (excluding the cost of land) to construct a 300-seat theatre at a taluk or district headquarter. "Let the government provide Rs15 lakh as a loan and Rs10 lakh as subsidy. It can collect rent for the land allotted for the construction of a cinema theatre," Babu said.