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'Sairat' scores at box office: Filmmakers debate on ways to boost regional cinema

With yet another Marathi film striking gold at the box office, filmmakers debate on the need for more screens and shows, and incentives to boost the regional industry

Winds of change are blowing through the Marathi film industry and the latest example is the thumping box office success of National Award winning director Nagraj Manjule's second film Sairat. In the first weekend, it has managed to collect nearly Rs 12 crore (400 screens) and is running houseful not just in small towns but also in the bigger centres as well as in non-Marathi speaking regions.

A still from Sairat, which was chosen to be screened at the 66th Berlin Film Festival. Lead actress Rinku Rajguru received a special mention for her acting debut at this year’s National Awards
A still from Sairat, which was chosen to be screened at the 66th Berlin Film Festival. Lead actress Rinku Rajguru received a special mention for her acting debut at this year’s National Awards

Nearly a decade ago, the industry was churning just about a dozen films per year, but now, the number has grown ten-fold. And it is not just a quantitative rise; the quality of films has improved substantially too. As an added advantage, the state government has effected quite a few measures to promote Marathi films — making them tax free in the state, giving grants of R40 lakh if it stays "true to its regional identity" and issuing a diktat to multiplexes to screen at least one show of a regional film daily.

While Marathi cinema is clearly on a roll, they are often overshadowed by Bollywood, be it in terms of prominence in the media or race for screens. "Marathi film industry is growing and exhibitors have also realised the increasing audience interest in our films. So, they increase the number of shows of a film if it does well. But a lot more can be done to allow the industry to achieve bigger goals," says actor-producer Shreyas Talpade.

Shreyas Talpade
Shreyas Talpade

Elaborating on ways to give an impetus to the regional industry, he says, "Each film should get prime time slots as well as more number of shows. Since Marathi films do not have huge budgets, exhibitors should give concessions to the producers to play trailers in theatres. Also, Marathi film posters do not get prominent space in theatres as Hindi and English movies eat much of the space. I appeal to exhibitors to highlight Marathi posters too."

National Award winning director Ravi Jadhav believes a film's destiny is tied to the merit of its content. "If you have good content, you do not have to convince exhibitors as they too want to do brisk business. So, if a Marathi film is doing better than a Hindi movie or one in another language, it will definitely get more screens," he explains.

Nagraj Manjule, director of Sairat
Nagraj Manjule, director of Sairat

Publicity, too, is a key area of focus, he says. "If you manage to market your film well, then there will naturally be curiosity among the audience. In Marathi cinema, very few films are sold on the names of stars, directors and composers. In case of Sairat, it has all the elements and the response has been amazing. Even the midnight shows are running houseful. In such cases, you tend to get more screens," adds Jadhav.

Agrees director Sanjay Jadhav, best known for his 2013 film Duniyadari, stating that makers do not really have to struggle these days. "I've had a good experience so far. I have never faced any issue as far as allotment of screens is concerned. If a film is good and has good names, theatre owners will be happy to give more screens to it, even in prime time slots."

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