Even as the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra is set to enact a law to make it mandatory for multiplexes in the state to screen Marathi movies during prime time slots, there are already numerous debates being thrown up about the pros and cons of such a decision.
While one does agree with the thought that no business should be forced by the government to follow their choices, this move could help the growth of the Marathi film industry and that can’t be a bad thing. It is noted that multiplex owners largely look at films merely as business decisions and most often, a blinkered approach is taken while deciding the number of screens allotted to films. More than 90 per cent of the screens are generally reserved for big budget Bollywood films, thus making it really difficult for smaller independent films and regional films to find screen space. At best, these films are relegated to non-prime slots, thus depriving a large part of the audience access to such movies. The big budget filmmakers have also added to this situation as they attempt to usurp the most number of screens in multiplexes in an ego battle to find the biggest opening for their releases.
The move to promote Marathi films, if applied correctly, might help the already booming Marathi industry, which has till now been extremely smart in its business module by making content-driven, small budget films and making them accessible to their target audience through low ticket prices at single screen theatres.
While the the government might be justified in its diktat, if it had showed the same kind of generosity for small budget films and regional films in other languages, this move would have been worthy of applause.
The ideal situation would be not only the Marathi ones, but all films being given the right platform for exposure, and letting the audience decide what they want to watch. The fittest ones will surely survive.