The order issued by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government reducing the cinema ticket prices and restricting the screening of films in theatres to only four shows is learnt to have led to massive corruption at the ground level.
For, the distributors are allegedly bribing everybody – from top to bottom – to see that the GO is not implemented in its letter and spirit.
As a result, the theatres are able to sell cinema tickets at higher rates and also screen the films for more than four shows a day.
Inquiries from the field indicate that the distributors of “Akhanda” starring Nandamuri Balakrishna and directed by Boyapati Srinu, to be released on Thursday, are spending at least Rs 15 lakh in each district to grease the palms of the people concerned – be it revenue officials, police or the media, so that they would not make an issue out of non-implementation of the GO brought in by the Jagan government.
So, nobody would raise the voice if the theatres sell the tickets at higher prices and screen additional shows of the film. Of course, the local politicians, including the MLAs, would have their own cut.
According to a distributor who doesn’t want to be named, this trend had started with Vakeel Saab.
“If it is big cinema, we cannot avoid spending this additional amount of Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh per district to silence everybody. What can we do? After all, we spend crores of rupees in buying a film and we have to recover as much as possible through additional shows and increased ticket rates,” he said.
Irony is that even as the Jagan government is planning to introduce online ticketing system of its own in theatres, the system has already been in place even in “B” and “C” centres through private agencies and it is providing some kind of transparency in cinema ticket sales.
With the state government bringing in GO on reduced ticket prices, the theatre owners have stopped this online booking by private agencies in B and C centres and are going in for counter sales. Instead of Rs 30 to Rs 70 per ticket through online, they are selling the counter tickets for more than Rs 100.
Had the government continued with the old cinema ticket rates, the distributors would not have corrupted the entire system at the grassroots level. In fact, the government itself would have got good amount of revenue, had it allowed special additional screenings by collecting certain fee.
Now, by bringing in the GO, the government has not only lost its revenue but also allowed the system to be corrupted. Though state minister Perni Nani asserted in the assembly that there was no question of allowing special shows, he must be definitely aware of what is going on at the field level.
So, the Jagan government has neither taken a favourable decision to benefit the film industry, nor has it been implementing its decision strictly. This has led to corruption at all levels and the distributors are forced to cough up the bribe!