Raja, Kashif, Taneja
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Middle-sized players normally settle.
Then you conduct a civil raid (indistinct) .. There's a chance that he might actually begin to buy your software. And what you're interested in more is the publicity that sort of comes with it, because you want it in the papers that you know Microsoft has launched this massive raid and they picked up so many crores worth of property and stuff. Often, if he's a middle-sized player, then he gets wary, he doesn't want the publicity, and so he settles and gives an undertaking saying I will not use or purchase or sell pirated maal anymore, and he starts.. the assumption is that he starts buying genuine, non-pirated stuff.
Cubbon Park, Bangalore
And the criminal rate is more where the small players.. you know you can't.. there's nothing you stand to gain by settling with them because you can't enforce the undertaking. He's not going to be able to afford your maal in any case, and where you want to basically seize his property and shut down his operation for that moment. So, sometimes a combination of both is done, you kind of do one or two sort of big civil raids and you do a couple of actions across the city, specially just around a time a movie is being launched. You have these raids because you get orders from the court saying that, you know, Monsoon Wedding is going to be released, and the XYZ cable operator has been known to pirate maal, we need to launch actions against them, and shut them down.
Small-players have a higher criminal rate.
Dealing with raids, violent and otherwise.
What.. is it.. intrinsically, but this is probably true of lot of police legal action, but especially in the case of intellectual property, the fact is that these raids are marked by violence, and the violence is not just from one side, it's not just from the sort of big companies, because often people who are in the position of.. of.. who are selling pirated maal, there's a community that's trading in the area, there's a whole sort of thing built up, and so there are some areas where the police would not dare enter. Or certainly would not.. would be very wary about entering.
And, so, you have a lot of this sort of police violence, the legal enforcers like I said, a lot of.. every person who has been raided, has spoken about, of about, four or five times before that, when they were supposed to have been raided, but really it was just one of the enforcers who just kind of came in and said, you know, mere pas authority hai, mai tumhare upar yeh case khardoonga. You'll go into jail, and tumhare yeh hoga, and has just taken all their maal and told him to shut down his shop.
And this is one thing, the other thing is where the guy just goes into his shop and just wrecks havoc, just, you know, cricket bat lekhe pura maar thaad, dod phod ho jaathe hai, basically just destroys the shop.
And, so on the one hand you have this sort of thing and on the other hand an area certainly where the people who are selling this are reasonably sort of organized and are not going to just keel over and say you know, come and conduct raids.
Also they have the experience of raids, they've learnt over a period of time how to sort of deal with them to some extent.
Outside of the.. the actual sort of legal practice of what happens is, I think a couple of legal instruments I would like to draw attention to, which have a certain sort of role which they're supposed to play in court, and have an entirely sort of different function when.. in the course of a raid.
The power of attorney is something which is given to a person to sort of file cases against pirated.. against pirates.
And all the people who.. who I spoke to who have been raided, spoke about power ki dhamki. Log aathe hai, hame kehte hai ki hamare pas power hai. Basically it's the power of attorney. And they show them the power of attorney. Sometimes it's expired, sometimes it's not, and they say ki power ki dhamki hai, hum tumhare upar case khardengi, yeh kahrdengi, voh khardengi, and it's a.. apart from the police ko hafta jaathe hai, do hazaar, teen hazaar rupiye, power of attorney vale ko alag sa hafta jaatha hai. Uski aap hamare upar math karo action.
Doosri baat, one power of attorney guy gets a case registered, he gets an FIR registered, in that his name comes as a complainant. And that FIR sort of becomes his sort of passport to lucre after that, because then he goes around sort of collecting hafta saying this FIR I have done against this person in this market, now you better sort of pay me hafta, otherwise I'm going to you know, take action.
Usage of power of attorney in the course of a raid.
Licenses forced upon them too.
The other thing is the thing of licenses where in a lot of the small markets especially, T-Series in particular has been going around with this sort of very active campaign to get them to buy T-Series licenses. Initially they were selling them at thousand two hundred rupees in the smaller markets, in the Karor Bagh area and stuff, per month, but over a period of time when they found that the smaller players certainly couldn't afford it, they said accha teek hai, che sou rupiye de do. Accha teek hai, teen sou rupiye de do. And finally they said ok fine, we'll give you license do saal ke liye free mai, uske baad apko laena padega. Basically he has this signboard at his back of his thing saying.. at the back of his shop saying T-Series ka license hai hamare pas.
And, also, the complaint often was that the guy would come and say mei tumhare upar raid kardoonga, if you don't buy my license.. if you buy my license uske baad jo chahar sakte ho. Couple of them said humne pehle teek hai hum le liya. Uske baad, two months later the guy comes from Eagle Music and he says you know you have T-Series ka license, hamara license nahi hai tumhare pas. And he says maine to kharid liye. How many times do you want me to buy license from all these people?
So this is like very sort of.. important.. has become very important in people's experience of what comes before the raid.
Blanket legal notices which aren't valid sent to the shops.
Illegal raids, of course, I've already spoken about, in the way that.. illegal purely in the sense that they don't have authority to conduct that raid. Now the point is all the companies know ki raid ho raha hai. The companies know, I mean, they give power of attorneys to so many people, and they know that at least you know 50% of them will be conducting raids on the side, will be sort of making their money on the side, and the companies are happy to sort of turn a blind eye to it, I don't think they're very concerned. So long as there's some sort of action, police to kuch nahi kar diya, at least someone is sort of taking action. So they're quite, you know, happy with that.
The other thing is one of legal notices where there is what so far as a lawyer the first time I came across, these sort of blanket legal notices which are sent out to everybody in one market.
We know you're pirating, you know, you're selling pirated software, pirated movies. We have come to know.. and just the shop number is changed, the same legal notice is sent to everyone that you're called upon to desist from this, you're called upon to buy genuine stuff, and otherwise we'll take legal action against you.
Now this sort of blanket legal notice, I mean in all the lawyers I've spoken to, it's.. it has no validity, it's just something which is again cooked up to.. to sort of, because it comes on an impressive letterhead of this lawyer who has an office in Khan Market or wherever else, and.. you know, so it's quite scary often, but now again, so much of this has happened in some markets at least that, it's just another legal notice. Sab ko matlub patha hai.
A raid doesn't mean the end of the world. Cable operators for example, are nimble on their feet.
I'd just like to point out one or two other little things.
One is that often, one assumes that it's the.. it's the smaller players who are.. who.. who are the easiest to kind of attack, the easiest to kind of hit. I mean, I don't mean to kind of make out this as if it's..it's.. it's purely business as usual. It isn't that. There's a lot of violence, there's a lot of sort of harassment and stuff.
But, I think one needs to kind of take the stories that come with the news media of this sort of catastrophic, and raid has happened, usko katham kar diya, you know, he's basically.. his life is finished, with a little bit of salt, because people have kind of found ways to negotiate around these.. these raids and other things.
Several examples that you know one has come to know about, like this guy was talking about, at some point two-three years ago, there was this big sort of crackdown on all cable operators. And, criminal cases, civil cases, they were filed en masse. And, the cops were kind of going you know hardcore at the cable operators.
And when I spoke with one of the enforcers later on, he said, you know, how.. how successful can it be in any case, because nowadays, it's.. the technology has become so simple that, you just have a van positioned.. you know, you access a guy's control room, you go into his control room, and there's nothing there. There's no VCR or VCD or whatever else, because he says control room se ek wire baahar jaatha hai, there's a van parked outside where he's kind of telecasting his movie from. The moment he knows there's a raid happening, he just has to disconnect the wire, and the van is gone. And the enforcer says, we know this is happening, but there's really.. there's no way that we can, you know, do anything about this.
Technology, while cheap, is also highly technical, and a layperson can't really figure out how it works.
The other thing is the fact that actually the technology is cheap and affordable and stuff like that, but for a lot of.. for a lot of people who are conducting the raids, it's not that sort of.. unless you're part of the business it's not very easy to kind of latch onto.
One of the lawyers spoke about conducting a raid in Sukhdev Vihar, against one of the big sort of cable operators, and he said, we got the order, it was going perfectly smoothly, local commissioner aaya hamare sath, we went to his control room..
And he says, it was just madness cause there's wires all over the place, there's transbonders, there's this, there's that.. Now how do I tell the local commissioner ki yeh transbonder se yeah beam ho raha hai. There's no way of knowing how.. you know, the technology itself is.. has become, or rather people have kind of adapted it so much that it's difficult unless you're really a part of that sort of industry to make sense of it.
And this was somebody who in fact was, Star after it became a pay channel, he was not allowed to sort of broa.. I mean he was not paying for the thing, and he was operating in a not.. in Zakir Nagar in fact, so what he would do was supposedly copy Star.. Star TV signals from New Friends Colony, and telecast it with a one hour delay in.. in Zakir Nagar. So this was a way in which he sort of made Star accessible to people in Zakir Nagar.
He says, we went there, we knew this was happening, but, you know, kaise pakadh de? It was just.. it was just complete madness. We couldn't sort of figure out how.. I mean what to do about this.
And.. so, I mean, often.. often one assumes that it's the.. the smaller players are the easiest kind of thing, but I think there's a certain nimbleness that comes with being small.
About the fact, again we were talking with another.. some other cable operators yesterday, and they were saying, you know, now, entertainment tax they're trying to impose on us. But tomorrow you know, how are they going to conduct a raid on me? How are they going to recover anything from me, because it's.. there's a certain nimbleness with not having a big office and having a big sort of thing, you're not registered, you're not whatever else.
So.. you know.. if there's any hope in.. in.. in.. in.. in.. you know, in the fight against these big sort of monopoly channels, it's in the hands of the small sort of operators. Because the bigger players are the easiest to crack down upon, and knowing that in fact, a lot of action was initially sort of targeted at the MSOs. Now of course the MSOs have a very comfortable convenient sort of nexus with big broadcasters, because big broadcasters have their money in the MSOs.
MSOs are basically multi service operators, they are the middle men between.. and Kashif will be better sort of qualified because he's in the field himself. They are the middlemen between cable operators and the broadcasters. And initially the cable networks were basically.. cable operators sort of lead out their lines and provided feed to people. And now, the MSOs: Hathway, City cable and Incable and Wincable, all of who have you know big business.. Hinduja, Raheja, Star and Subash Chandra are all invested in these.. in these.. in these MSOs.
And their whole sort of.. yeah, so, I mean like for example before Monsoon Wedding, there was this big action because they couldn't kind of clamp down on cable operators, there were too many of them, so they decided hum, we'll attack the MSOs, and get them to sort of impa.. to kind of enforce the law against cable operators, because I think there's an understanding even among the.. certainly amongst the big players that it's easier to kind of target the bigger players. The more consolidation, the more.. the bigger the player gets, the easier it is to sort of stop them, censor them, prevent them from broadcasting their signals.
Bigger players that are consolidated are easier to target.
And, secondly of course, I think the fact that the whole.. the logic that the legal sort of thing builds on of parbaadi, you know, hum parbaad.. that the pi.. and I think to most people here it's now.. the pirate market sort of parallels the.. the.. the.. the legal market, because if a movie is a hit in the legal market, only then will you find it, or is easier to find in the pirate market. And, I mean, the duds you have to kind of go around looking for, it's more difficult to find.
Pirate market parallels legal market.
Hindi words clarified. Maal and hafta. Jawahar ends.
Only one announcement, for those of you who missed out anything that was said in Hindi, and would like to clarify with Jawahar at some point, two words: maal is the bribe.. sorry, hafta is the bribe and maal is the good. So.. but I'm sure you'll clarify.. Kashif?
Good Morning People.
My name is actually Kazi Mohammad Haq, but you guys can call me Kashif.
I've done my M.S. Communication and from past two years, I've been running a Urdu channel, a local community channel in Bangalore, for.. for Bangaloreans, obviously.
So now, let me tell you what are local channels or what are community channels. See people, before if you see, bef.. 1992-93, we used to have Doordarshan which was broadcasting, where one channel used to beam and used to cater all the people all over India.
But after the satellite revolution, we started getting.. well, we started getting different channels for different people, like we got the Zee for Indian audiences with more film based programs, then we got the sports channel, we got the Star channel which were catering to the English people.. but, slowly, as satellite revolution came and the technology came, you know the broadcasting started changing into narrow-casting, where people were catering to limited people.
Their target audiences were very limited, this is known as a niche market. As the revolution happened, we started seeing many many channels, like we had three-four sports channel, one for football, one for cricket, then we have music channel specifically English channel, Hindi channel, then you have Punjabi channels.
So, as the technology comes down and as the audiences increases, what happens? The broadcasters, they become narrow-casters, and they started targeting people of their own interest. So, this is what a local channel or community channel, which caters, or which has a selected, very very selected audiences which wa.. which would like to watch their programs on.. wh.. which are their viewers. Now this is what a local channel or a community channel is.
Kashif explains what a local channel does, and the manner in which the satellite revolution made broadcasting shift to narrow-casting, targeting a niche market.
Gives an introduction about Suroor TV, a local channel he started which caters to the Urdu speaking population of Bangalore
Now, we can have local channel through satellite, or we can have local channel through cable. What I was doing with Suroor, I was having a.. I was running a Urdu channel, catering to the Urdu people, Urdu speaking population of Bangalore, because unfortunately, we have around 12 lakh, according to official censuses, but unofficially we're around 17 lakh Muslim people in Bangalore who has no media other than the Urdu newspaper, which has a total circulation only of 20,000. Now this I'm talking about the whole state. 20,000 circulation of Karnataka state, where you have around 80 lakh Urdu speaking population.
So, when I started Suroor TV, this was the thing in my mind. That there's no medium for these people who understands Urdu, who does not have.. who does not understand Kannada, who does not know English. They do understand Hindi, but the thing is when they watch Hindi, suppose they're watching a news channel, something like Aaj Tak or Star News, it is very much irrelevant for them.
They won't understand what are the policies of a Karnataka government or what Bangalore Municipal Corporation is doing for them or what are the schools and colleges offering for them in Bangalore, because obviously these things wouldn't be shown on a national network. So keeping these thing in my mind, I started Suroor TV, which I was catering to the Urdu speaking population in Bangalore.
Describes the rise of the MSOs, and their modus operandi.
Well, in Suroor TV obviously I had the religious programs, but I had lots of talk shows, I had news, I had news analysis, I had interviews, I had everything local which was.. which was for my audiences, which was required over here.
Now, I li.. I used to run Suroor TV, I was linked up with City cable, which is one of the MSO, as Jawahar was telling, and I'll tell you what MSO exactly are. I was running with City cable, and it used to reach around 15-20 lakh people all over Bangalore, and my target audiences were around out of them 4 lakhs.
Now, MSOs are multi system operators or multi system.. multi service operators, whatever you say. See, the existence of.. well, as you.. all of you get cable in your house. But you guys know.. how do you get it? You think you pay 150 rupees or 200 rupees to your cable operator and he's the person who provides the channel to you. But, it's more complicated.
It's like.. you have these MSOs, as.. they are.. what they do.. every MSO will have a set of 350.. 500 cable operators or 200 cable operators. These MSOs provide service to the local cable operators, that is around your area, and these local cable operators provide the service to you.
Now the existence of MSOs came in 1996, in Bangalore, as far as I know about Bangalore, with City cable being the person.. they are the first person to start it. Now the reason MSOs came was, it was actually the fault of the cable operators also. When the pay channels started, they had to pay five rupees per netw.. per connection, or ten rupees per connection.
So, this is the time MSOs came over and they told to the cable operators, you pay us a fixed amount of five thousand rupees, five thousand rupees, and you have as many as number of connections, it does not.. it's not our concern. But you pay us five thousand rupees, and we provide you all the channels.
So this was the understanding between the cable operators and MSOs, where because suppose a cable operator has around thousand networks, then he's paying five rupees for Star, five rupees for HBO, five rupees for AXN, he'll be paying a huge amount to these service providers, to the channels. But when MSOs came, they said you just pay us five thousand rupees, and you can have as many as connections you want, and we'll provide you all the services. And later the MSOs had a understanding with these service providers, the channels operators.
But as time went on, these MSOs they became very strong. First we had SitiCable, then we had Incable - I'm talking about Bangalore - Incable, and then we had Hathway. One belongs to the Rahejas, the Hindujas and Subhash Chandra. So what these MSOs started doing - they became the gatekeepers. They knew.. the.. the.. they started charging carrier fees from all the channels, and they became ca.. care.. gatekeepers. And it was.. now it's in their hands to decide, which channel should you watch, which channel should these people get, and which channel should be on the prime band, which channel should come on the hyperband, which channel should have the better quality. So, this is about the MSOs, the multi system operators.
MSOs don't invest in small towns as it isn't economically interesting to them. TV has taken over as the tool of mass communication, and hence local channels are crucial.
Now I'll tell you about the need and wants of a local channel. Now people.. definitely it happens that we want to know what's happening around us, we'll be more, definitely more interested in what's happening around us, you want to look around, rather than what's happening somewhere around 5000 km around us.
But, even though we have the technology and we have everything, but we are not able to do this. These.. my kind of channels, if you go to small cities, if you go to just around 150 kms or 50 kms from Tumkur, Mysore or Gulbarga or Raichur. These channels are doing excellent over there. In a bigger town where the population is around fifty l.. fifteen lakhs or twenty lakhs, you have around four local channels. Where in Bangalore we hardly have any local channel. We do have, but it's.. it's.. we don't have. Because again the reason because the MOs..MSOs have totally dominated in the bigger cities. They've not invested in small cities because they won't get any monetary benefit from there. They'll get.. monetary benefit will be very less.
But in the bigger cities, where we need these channels more, because being.. see, suppose you see Bangalore for example, we have people all over, like I was said that 60% of people in Bangalore speak Tamil. Now, don't you think we need a Tamil channel exclusive only for the Bangaloreans? Because, so that, what.. the form of communication will become definitely very easy. Because before it was the cinema supposed to be the mass.. tool of the mass communication, but now it has.. television has taken over it. Everybody has a television set.
Getting through to people by communication. Information empowers, and allows questioning the powers.
So if we want to communicate to the people, or.. mostly to the.. OK, we.. now how many of us like.. like.. fif.. fifty for.. the circulation of forty percent of newspaper.. if you take hundred percent circulation of the newspaper, out of those only forty percent of people read newspaper. Sixty percent of the people buy newspaper only for prestigious issue, that I'm buying a newspaper, I'm getting the Asian Age, or I'm getting Times of India. That is the situation if you.. or they'll be lying in some library or some office.
So how are you going to communicate with these people? Because when we talk about television it's not only entertainment, it's not only movies or it's not only songs. There's so many other issues that has to be communicated through television. So my point here is you cannot communicate them through Kannada, because, you know, I've been here for fifty years and yes I can understand Kannada but I cannot.. I cannot communicate in Kannada that properly, and there are so many people around.
That's the reason we need a cha.. in a scenario like Bangalore, we need lots and lots of this community channels and local channels so that we can spread awareness.. the kind of mass communication we guys talk about, because again, coming back to newspaper, we have a very strong feeling before.. OK, if you just communicate to the group leaders or if you just communicate to the Mullas or the Pundits or the dada or bhai of that area, we'll be communicating to the grassroots, we'll be reaching the grassroot. But it's not happening now, because everybody, most of them have access to the information, either if they don't get television channel, at least they.. they try to go and they have radio or some other thing.
So they will question you tomorrow, because they have the choice now. It is not like if you just cater to the group leaders or the some elite class people or as we say the intellectuals, it's not that. He'll say 'Arre kya bekar ki baathe kar aya sir, gumma re, last year usne bola tha usko vote do, I voted him and nothing happened to me, I didn't get water.' So this guy ha.. people in Bangalore in particular.. not even Bangalore, it's happening if you go to UP and those places, they are much better than us in terms of all these things. They think much well better than us. Bangalore people are very easy-going, they say 'chalta hai, no problem, we'll see it next year, we'll see it after five years, this is what it is.'
No. But the problem here is, how are we going to penetrate to everybody? It is not possible with English now being.. become the mass language in India, at least in Bangalore, it's not possible with English. I know so many of people who does not even understand a word of English. So that's the reason we need to have more and more of these community channels. So.. as I told you.
And the problem now.. how can we have community and local channels in place like Bangalore and India. Well, as you know the MSOs have taken over it, and it's very difficult because they have made their monopoly and they're very very strong politically, financially, anything you say.
What I feel is, recently there was a article.. there was a proposal from BSNL, that is the local telephone.. this thing, that they're going to provide three in one package, now they're having two in one where they're providing telephone service with internet. Very soon they're going to have telephone, internet and cable channels. That will be a fantastic.. fantastic thing for me, I can.. that's a government organisation, I can get influence from some MP or some minister and get into it, that's not a problem.
Or else, what I feel is, you have around.. see, you have three major MSOs, and you have around two-three another small MSOs. What I feel is you should have one MSO kind of a thing, a body which is.. should be autonomous body under the government. Because, again the thing is, as they said what.. the content of the channel again. When I went to SitiCable and Hathway, they said, sir we have.. we can provide only 80 channels, we cannot give one other channel, such the reason.
Now, when you see, you get channels like FTV, you get channels like Trend, and you get some German channel or some Russian channel, which we cannot understand. They might be having viewers.. German, the government might be having some pact, OK we will show German channel in India, they might.. whole of like seventy lakhs or eighty lakhs of people, only five hundred will understand that language, or whoever is learning German in Max Mueller Bhavan will understand German, that's all.
Penetration of local channels necessary, with English not being a mass language. The government uncooperative to these needs.
But what about the rest of the masses? Why can't.. when government has provided so many facilities they have given so many subsidies to MSOs, so that there's equal distribution of communication and in.. equal communication and information. Then why not, the channel which has been demanded by the public, why is not happening?
Another thing is very funny thing is that you have this TRAI, Telecom Regulatory of India, I just came to know about around eight months back and I was like very happy about it, so I went, went looking around, where is TRAI in Bangalore.
So, somebody told me you please go to the BESCOM Bhavan, situated just right opposite to Cubbon park, this side (indicates direction). And, I went and spoke to the General Manager, 'Sir, do you have something like TRAI here or do you have anybody who was.. who is linked to TRAI?' He said No Sir, TRAI is the.. their office in Bangalore if you go to Antarik.. some Bhavan if you go in Delhi you have a this thing. Whatever information we want to get, even we download it from Internet.
This is what TRAI is. Suppose.. see there are 1200 cable operators in Bangalore, other than these MSOs, and they come under TRAI. So where are these people supposed to go? Forget about the.. how would you people, if you want to go and complain that 'I'm not getting this particular channel, or I'm paying this much of money and it's my right to get this channel and this channel is not coming clear to me', where are you people supposed to go?
And.. people like me, who are like.. I wrote this to TRAI, very like.. very honest I wrote it to TRAI and I said, 'Sir, this is the problem with me.' I got a fantastic reply saying 'It's very unfortunate what's happening with you, but we're very sorry, we cannot force the MSOs.' This is what the letter I got from the ad.. one of the advisers of TRAI.
And the reason was that since the MSOs are not digitalised or the cable operators are not digitalised, they're still running under the monologue this thing, so we cannot force them. But the fact is that most of them, 80% of them have been digitalised. They can give up to.. everybody has OAFC, that's optic fibre cable, and everybody can give up to 1000 sign.. 1000 channels.
But they don't want to do it because it's their interest. The MSOs, they feel wherever they can get carrier fees, they can show that channel. So, that's what.
I just wanted to say that's the experience I had from past two years, and that's what I'm facing.
So, anything you want to ask me..
The ineffectualness of TRAI. The monopoly of the MSOs that doesn't allow for small players to function.
Describes his experience with Suroor TV, and how he was muscled out by the MSOs and the big channels, and how today it is impossible to be an independent operator, one necessarily needing to go through MSOs. Kashif ends his presentation.
This is very interesting.
See, I was running my channel through SitiCable. And I was paying them around 1 lakh rupees monthly, that was huge for me. But, you know, these people were very clever. They used to run my channel for two months and shut it down for one week.
The reason being was that, I didn't knew, and it used to cut down mainly on Saturday and Sunday. Because, then I came to know they used to do this because the channel should not become popular, and the demand of the channel should not come up.
Everybody should say 'Oh, that channel is a local channel, he does not have quality, he does not have service, every two days it is down. Who wants to watch that channel?' And people used to ask me, 'Kya saab, kya saab tumhara channel har do din mei bundh ho jaatha, what are you doing, trying to do? Become professional' and this thing and that thing, so then I.. I used to tell them.
And lately I started getting calls from this Sony.. started getting calls from few of the cable operators in Bangalore, saying Sir, you please change the timing of your programs, at.. between 9 to 11. And I was like, why do you want that? Nahi sir, ehsa hai ke.. it's like, other people wants to see Star TV, they want to see Sony TV and your programs comes with that.. even your programs comes at that time, and they don't want.. so that's the problem with the viewers, so you please change the timings.
I got this calls from around fifteen cable operators, and I was like, I was happy. Oh, I've been compared with Sony and Star, it's a big thing for me. But later I came to know, the problem really, then when SitiCable suddenly shut me down. He said No sir, you pay me how much ever you want, we cannot give you connection, it's not happening and blah blah blah, they told me.
Then I came to know, since I have some links, I came to know that TAM ratings of Star and Sony in Bangalore had come down. It had.. it really had come down, and since I was not registered for TAM rating, that's the television ratings we have in India for.. I was not registered and it was miscellaneous. The miscellaneous had come up, where you have the channels which are not registered. It had come up, so that's my assumption and that's what we did, because there was no other channel and no other reason, there was no World Cup also going on.
So these people are very.. see, now what happens is, when I spoke to the cable operators, local cable operators, telling them see.. see, it was very funny thing when one of my.. one of the cable operators was telling us yesterday when that entertainment tax was imposed on them, from 1500 they made it to 3000 now they're asking them to pay 7500 rupees, the cable operators said we are going for a strike. We want to.. the local cable operators, the small cable operators.
Actually the MSOs are not operators, they are distributors, but that's what we call them. So this cable operators, when they said we want to go for a strike. The MSOs said you want to do individual strike, you do it, we're not interested. We'll be beaming the signals; it's up to you. So what happened between them, if one cable operator was not be.. was on strike, the other cable operator was beaming it. So it didn't become a success.
But when the taxes was imposed.. imposed on MSO, MSO, they gave.. they.. they had a strike. They start beaming the signals to any of the cable operators. So it's a fantastic lobby between them, which whenever they're doing.. they're into competition when.. but when the issue is like this, they come up, they become together and they make sure that the next person is not coming up.
So I told Lokesh, Lokesh, why don't you have your own link, like we used to have before 1996, why don't you just have.. just put a big dish, those days it used to have.. now what is happen, see, the MSOs have a kind of a pact or partnership with the cable.. they used to have.. they have a pact with channels. Like the Star has it with.. Hathway has it with Star TV, Zee TV has it with Siti channel.. Siti TV, SitiCable, and Sony has it with Incable. So these people are not giving them the links, if you want to become independent again. Star TV, Sony TV.. you have to go back to the MSOs. So this is the problem.
I think the time is over, so if you want to ask me any questions, you can ask me.. (that'll be later?)
Anand Vivek Taneja introduces his presentation: A normative business history of multiplexes in Delhi/India.
This is going to be very different from the first two presentations because it's essentially a normative business history of multiplexes, largely in Delhi, and in other parts of India as well.
On February 21, 1998, the Times of India, in Delhi, carried a story about a police constable being suspended for masturbating on a woman in a cinema hall. The hall was the recently opened Anupam, now PVR Anupam 4, India's first multiplex.
The story ended thus: Anupam PVR officials said that they were helpless in preventing such incidents in the hall. "Till the time the order which forces us to sell 20% of our tickets at rupees five is not taken back, these problems will continue," a company official said. He said all kinds of people have been entering the hall because of the extremely subsidised rate of tickets that have to be sold.
This news clipping is rich in overlapping histories. In February 1998 Anupam PVR, India's first multiplex with 80% of its tickets priced at a hundred rupees had been in operation for about eight months. The MCT's regulation on 20% of cinema tickets being sold for minimum prices continued for three more years, though hotly contested.
Bada Din, the film playing, directed by Anjan Dutt and financed by the RPG group of industries, would now be described as a multiplex film, a niche film which is commercially viable because of the existence of a multiplex audience.
And the constable is the archetype of a once important figure from Delhi cinema history, the masturbator. The masturbator, or wanker, is a figure who stands in direct opposition to the figure of the cinema's desirable audience, the gentry.
He's a figure that can be linked to cinema's perceived decline from the mid-80s onwards, as Bhrigupati Singh - who's.. who's part of the PPHP project - as Bhrigupati Singh's work has shown, the soft-porn morning show was a strategy to maintain profitability in an era when the family audience, family in quotes, audience has perceived to have moved away from the cinema, lured away by TV and video.
Talks of the first multiplex, and the archetypes of a desirable and undesirable audience.
However, it was not necessarily a welcome strcha.. strategy. The lack of the respectability of the morning show was and continues to be transferred onto its largely male, and often working class audience.
At Imperial Cinema, a slightly run-down cinema in Delhi, the gatekeeper told me 'Only wankers come here now. There are no gentry now. It smells when I check tickets at the gate.'
At Eros, during the morning show, the cinema hall staff used to patrol the hall with lathis to discourage masturbators, which practice probably gave us that most expressive abbreviation, KLPD.
The masturbator is a figure from the margins, linked to a time which people in cinema exhibition narrate as one of cinema itself becoming marginal. He is still a figure linked to the stories of those halls whose management perceive them as marginal and derelict, bypassed by present time by the hype and profitability of the first release, by the glamour of the cineplex.
Given this history of the imagination of the masturbator within this Delhi... OK. Thank you.
Given this history of the imagination of the masturbator within this Delhi cinema exhibition circuit, the shock of his sudden appearance within the new, self-consciously elite experience of the cinema hall is telling.
This is not the wanker story however, this is the story of spaces re-imagined and created for the wanker's imaginary other: the gentry, the global elite, the family audience.
The space of the cinema hall re-imagined for the 'family' audience, rather than the wanker.
If following Benjamin we view fantasy as the energy stored in the concreteness of objects, then it is the image of a transformed globalised gentry that is embodied in the steel and glass and bold primary colours of the new cinema spaces.
One of the most articulate representatives of this fantash.. fantasy and vision is Sonali Rastogi of the Morphogenesis Architecture Studio, a firm that designs corporate headquarters, malls and multiplexes, and which has designed the majority of the PVR cinemas in Delhi and elsewhere.
To quote, Global Indians, we need to ensure that our newly built environment corresponds, and the paradigm shift in culture be addressed. Further, another quote, Our aspirations as Indians have changed. Earlier when our mothers went shopping to South Ex or GK1, we were left to play in the park with the drivers. Now, who do you see in the park but the drivers? That Indian doesn't exist anymore, who could sit and wait in the park. Today we are as time-crunched and networked as anyone in the world.
The vision of a 'new Indian'.
Two moments that embody the story of the new space that is a cinema hall.
Where does the story of these new spaces begin? I want to highlight two moments. The first is a honeymoon. Ajay Bijli's honeymoon in Orlando, Florida. Ajay Bijli is the son of a Delhi family which owned.. which owns a trucking business, and Priya cinema.
To quote from an article about him, The late 80s were a bad time for cinema hall owners. The entertainment tax was prohibitive, the video boom had happened. Ticket prices were controlled and absurdly low. Priya too had fallen on hard times and started playing B-grade movies. Then, on his honeymoon in Florida, Ajay Bijli visited a multiplex and started thinking of the ways he could turn around PVR cinema, and then went on to start PVR Anupam 4, the first multiplex.
Another moment envisioned for the new cinema space was articulated by Rajshree studios. This vision can only be described as a mirroring, in which the opulent upper-class family setting scene in the film Hum Saath Saath Hain was to be reproduced in the halls in which the film was shown.
Six months before the film's Diwali '99 release, a six page questionnaire was sent out to exhibitors all over the country, judging the fitness of their halls to screen the film. Not only did this questionnaire focus on the technical specifications of the hall, but also reportedly on the brand of soap used in the toilets. Over a third of halls in which the film was shown were renovated before the screening to match exacting standards of decor, technology, seating and toiletry.
Screen as a mirror to the 'modern' Indian.
The image of the screen as a mirror, in which the upper-class family cavorting among the panoramic interiors of its mansion is reflected in the family audience patronising the opulent interiors of the new cinematic space is trite perhaps, but compelling.
In such an image of the family cinema which overlaps with the image of the time-crunched global Indian, there is no room for the masturbator. When PVR Anupam 4 started in 1997 in Saket Community Centre in South Delhi in collaboration with Village Roadshow Pictures, Australia, it articulated a vision of quality cinema which had as much to do with the variety of films on offer, as with the promise of exclusivity.
But there was a problem. Because in this space of the global time-crunched Indian, the driver sitting in the park, the student and the small-time goonda still had access to its hallowed portals thanks to the MCT stipulation, which we've spoken about. This translated to the front-row of tickets being sold for five rupees. Not only did this reduce from the profit of ticketing, it also interfered with the consumption-based movie culture, that PVR created in five gown (?).
In this paper, I'd like to highlight the overlapping processes which made the cineplex culture a possibility.
The first thing I want to talk about is lobbying. The price restriction on 20% of the tickets is just one example of the hurdles faced by those introducing a new cinema-viewing culture to India. I hesitate to call it a multiplex culture because a multiplex in the technical sense of many small theatres within one complex is only one of the many possible spatial arrangements of the new cinema spaces.
A more apt term would be a cineplex culture which can denote the myriad other possibilities of spatial, technological and economic arrangements. Initially many of these arrangements were outside the imagination of existing cinema regulations and were hence technically illegal.
However, illegality is dealt with as a minor irritant, in the knowledge that the law will be changed. For example, after the first IMAX theatre had been built and inaugurated in Bombay, promoter Manmohan Shetty was asked 'but this is a large format cinema with its own screen size, slope ratio etcetera. So how did it fit into the existing rules that are meant for regular cinema?' The answer: 'We have told them to amend certain cinema rules, which they are considering. The government is also appreciating our bringing something new to the state.'
Rave-3 in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh's first multiplex faced some initial difficulties. To quote: absence of laws led to different interpretations by different echelons of the bureaucracy. There were unusual delays in obtaining sanctions. Only the combined clout of the two corporate groups, the investors, could see the project through.
During the inauguration the Chief Minister was so impressed that he promised government non-interference and more benefits for subsequent projects.
Powerful lobbying power. Illegality is a minor (and temporary) irritant.
Government imagination of 'global city'. Restriction of class access to new cinema spaces.
The cineplex culture has been helped up its way by governmental imagination of the global city, helped along by aggressive and organised lobbying by various players.
A good example is the minutes of a meeting held on 24th May, '99, under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary of Delhi, regarding the admission rates of cinema halls. The minutes of that meeting are illuminating. He, the Chief Secretary observed that Delhi being the capital of the country, there is a greater need for small halls, mini-theatres with hundred to two hundred seats, and such new cinema halls should equip themselves with the best possible modern amenities in the matter of comfort, and equipped with latest cinematographic technology.
He observed that as of today there is control of rate of tickets only in respect of 20% of the seats, but such control can be considered for being relaxed in case facilities in existing cinema halls are upgraded.
Cinema plots should not be auctioned by the DDA but be given on reserve price keeping in view that cinema is one of the important means of entertainment for the common man, and deserves to be encouraged by providing land at cheaper rates.
Sri Rajesh Khanna and Sri Uday Kaushish were both figures in la.. big figures in the cinema exhibition industry in Delhi, were present on behalf of the exhibitors. The truth is held to be self-evident that the capital of the country needs small theatres. The minutes of the meeting bring to mind the upper-class educated public that S.V. Srinivas speaks of as making the public sphere an authority to which appeals could be made in matters of common interest.
Hence the 'common man' is invoked to make land cheaper for cinemas, and yet in the very next point it is stipulated that all ticket prices can be deregulated with upgradation of facilities, effectively restricting class access to the new cinema spaces.
The 'integral' elements of a cinematic experience, as outlined by the multiplex policies of various states. Powerful lobbying.
'99 also saw the setting up of the Entertainment Committee of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, FICCI, which is best described as India's premier lobbying body.
Through the pages of Theatre World, the quarterly journey for the.. quarterly journal for the film exhibition industry, we get a sense of how urgently laws and regulations are sought to be changed, and how various innovations are pushed through. We get snippets of various meetings held between representatives of the cinema exhibition business and state authorities.
To quote Amit Khanna, CEO of Reliance Entertainment and a prominent member of this FICCI entertainment committee. It is through the efforts of FICCI that industry status has been granted to films. FICCI was instrumental in getting the multiplex policy passed in Maharashtra. The Maharashtra multiplex policy, though announced later than those of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, was framed the earliest, and served as a template for the multiplex policies framed by other states, including Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhatisgarh and Goca.
To quote: Due to the onslaught of cable television and advancement in the field of information technology, the average occupancy in cinema theatres has fallen considerably, and hardly any new theatres started in stared in the recent past. Public-at-large these days prefer seeing movies at home. Keeping in view the scenario or concept of complete family entertainment centre, more popularly known as multiplex theatre complex has emerged. These multiplex theatre complexes offer various entertainment facilities for the entire family under a single roof. However, these complexes are highly capital intensive, the gestation period is also quite longer, and therefore need government support and incentive in entertainment duty.
The Maharashtra policy fixes the ticket price of the multiplex necessarily higher than those of conventional single-screen cinemas, charges no entertainment tax for the first three years of the operation of a multiplex, and a quarter of the standard rates for the next three, and demands higher technological investment, central air-conditioning, art galleries and video game parlours, and a minimum of two pool tables as being integral elements of the cinematic experience.
Government drive to build malls and give subsidies to multiplexes.
That the government by law dictates the leisure and consumption practices of the prospective cinema public and virtually underwrites the returns of investors is perhaps not a new phenomenon historically, but fascinating nevertheless.
Changes in laws and regulations continue to happen in other places as well. One of the most striking examples has been Gurgaon, where an earlier history of speculative investment in large tracts of land, the recent influx of foreign investment, and the creation of an entirely new work culture and related consumption patterns, have come together to create a unique mushrooming of the mall-multiplex combined.
To quote, again: In the past few years there's been a paradigm shift. Many state repealed the urban land ceiling and regulation act (ULCRA). Land that was locked up for years has now been released for development. The original act was passed in 1976 during the Emergency with the rhetoric of ensuring equitable distribution and avoiding speculative transactions relating to land in urban agglomerations.
The Act was repealed in '99, effective immediately in Haryana, Punjab and all Union Territories. Immediately afterwards the boom in malls started along the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road, in Gu.. and there's another news clipping from there saying, coming back to Gurgaon, the Haryana government is cashing in on the boom.
It amended rules to remove all technical bottlenecks that hindered setting up of malls on a stretch of the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road. Not just that, the government's decisions made one believe that just about any available land in the city could only have a single use: commercial. This was clearly evident when the Haryana Development Authoriy - HUDA, planned a huge commercial area which will include an eight-storied mall, at a site where Gurgaon Central Jail stood for years.
In 2002, under the aegis of FICCI, a multiplex investors association was formed, to lobby state and central governments to change existing cinema regulations to better suit new cineplex strategies, and to give further economic incentives to multiplexes.
For example, this amendment to the Karna.. Karnataka Cinema Regulation Rules, 1971. In Rule 46 of the said rules, the following provision shall be inserted at the end, namely, Provided that in the case of a multiplex complex, auditorium may be in any floor if sufficient number of staircases and lifts are provided in the multiplex complex for entry and exit in case of emergency.
This is an important shift from earlier cinema regulations and the rationale of fire safety, motivated by the economics of the mall-multiplex combined, where the cinema halls are always located on the higher floors, where the rentals are lower, whereas the lower floors are dedicated to retail.
Another example to quote Deepak Asher, founder-president of the multiplex association. I myself have met the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister and Union Finance Minister about provisions of tax incentives. That effort was successful. Section 80(1)(b) of the Income Tax Act was amended to provide 50% income tax exemption for the multiplex industry.
By the second.. this brings me to the second thing of investment. Deepak Asher, the president of the multiplex association is also the head of INOX Leisure, one of the largest multiplex chains in the country. The INOX group is a fluorochemicals major and were looking for strategic business expansion in '99. They hired the consultants McKinsey and Company to identify new business opportunities. McKinsey recommended that INOX diversify into cinema exhibition, and INOX leisure was born.
Earlier, cinema halls in Delhi were largely constructed by builders and real estate companies like the Eros group and Dalsons. With the tax incentives available to multiplexes and their perception as a viable business opportunity with a quick return on investment, a variety of other people started investing in new cinema spaces. There's the Fun Republic, started by the Essel group of a divison of Zee, the Sahara group also. Traditional real estate investors like Ansals and DLF started investing in the National Capital region.
But a variety of other people and companies which had nothing to do with film earlier also started to invest in the multiplex. Rave-3, UP's first multiplex, Rave-3 saw a joint investment by Shilesh Gupta with Jagran Group, and Vikram Kothari of the Pan Parag group. M2K Rohini was set up by Netlice India, which mainly deals with the trading and export of fishery products. The Jaipuria group in Jaipur had interests in soft-drink bottling, mineral water, transportation. SRS World in Faridabad was started by financier Anil Jindal, () was started by a group known for its mattresses and () business.
Institutional investment, and this is important, became available for multiplexes, as was seen by the PVR group's expansion, including the multiplex in Bangalore, funded by ICICI bank.
Investment in the multiplex business by all and sundry.
A more interesting trend is the investment in building multiplexes by film distributors. Jimmy (?) arts promoting Wave (?) cinema and Shringar films, in partnership with Manmohan Shetty, promoting Fame Adlabs.
To quote Shroff of Shringar films, We have so many movies coming out every year. I'm a distributor and I supply films to an exhibitor who makes money out of me. I saw a clear gap in the market. Somebody making money from my film. So why can't I make money out of my own film? It's essentially a backward integration. We're doing the same.
Which brings me to the third thing, on imagination. What is the imagination behind these new cinematic spaces that has led to all this lobbying and investment? With so many diverse actors it might be absurd to look for a unifying vision, but a couple of small articles from Theatre World are compelling.
In the April-June 2000 issue, Theatre World twice used the terminology of in comparison with the oil industry to talk of the cinema exhibition industry and how it needs to go beyond its primary product - cinema - and diversify into other avenues of revenue generation. The first article was called 'We also show movies'. We should take the interesting example of oil majors who are waking up to the potential of pushing non-oil revenues through convenience stores. Want to buy a loaf of bread, a birthday gift, toys, flowers, check your email or even grab a bite? Try the gas station. Internationally oil companies such as Shell earn up to 70% of their net profits from non-oil. The slogan of multiplexes could well be 'we also show movies'.
The article in the April-June edition, again, on page 25 is called 'Oil for one, and one for oil. How theatres can learn from the petrol station experience.' The new cineplex culture is characterised by marking of the cinematic space as elite and aesthetically global. And by economic arrangements that retain the watching of films as the central attraction of the cinematic experience, but make it comparatively marginal in terms of the monetary returns of the cinema.
A renovated concessions stand becomes a.. becomes an important revenue generator for all of the new cinematic spaces, multiplex or otherwise. A bag of popcorn costs an exhibitor about 10% of what it is sold to the consumer for. This huge profit does not attract entertainment tax, or have to be shared with the distributor.
According to Vikas Suri of Fast Food Systems, who supplied the machinery for PVR's first concessions stand, the machinery he supplies costs anywhere between twenty to twenty-five lakh of rupees, but the returns, as he says, are over one lakh a day.
The food also serves as an index of gentrification. So PVR Gurgaon is more upmarket than DT Cinemas across the road because PVR serves hot dogs whereas DT serves samosas.
Diversification of the film exhibition industry to seek new revenue sources.
Higher profit margins through subsidiary activities like food courts.
When the Competent group with interests in automobiles as well as cinema distribution invested in cinema exhibition, they bought the second floor of a shopping mall situated on the former site of the Alankar cinema in Lajpat Nagar.
This was converted into a small single screen hall with a capacity of about 300, and an attached food court. The were pitching themselves as a family entertainment centre, and found that 50-60% of families eat out, along with going for a film.
Competent invited food suppliers like McDonald's, Barista, Sagar Ratna and Chop Sticks to be part of the food court on a profit-sharing business. As the food court can be accessed independently of the cinema, and as the profit margins of food and beverages are much higher than those from the cinema, once again about 60-70% of 3C's revenues are from the food court.
Food Court has a separate manager to look after its upkeep, who formerly worked in hotel management. Though 3Cs, to continue, has only a 300 seat capacity and a regular four show format unlike other multiplex programming, it's high ticket prices mean that its weekly earning capacity on ticket sales was comparable to a bigger hall like Eros or Sapna. And being a smaller hall, the percentage of its collections, which always looks good in trade figures, would be higher.
Alankar, which is what became 3Cs and Eros, the closest cinema hall, had the same distributor, Mukta arts. Once Alankar was reopened as 3Cs it was given preference by the distributor, and Eros immediately lost its status as a first release hall.
In a little more than a year of 3Cs opening, Eros was shut down to be renovated as a multiplex.
Classification of halls.
First release is one of the parameters by which a hall is classified into what we know as the circuits A, B and C. It was a classification system used by advertisers to determine what can be advertised effectively in the hall, and what the rates of payment to the theatre should be.
There are four parameters of the classification of a hall. Its location, the facilities it has to offer, its ambiance, which is essentially the class profile of the hall's patrons, and whether or not it was a first release hall.
In my imagination, older movie halls would have been downgraded on the scale after becoming a multiplex of the cineplexes. It's not quite that simple. Regal for example continues to have an A classification despite the fact that legal disputes have meant that it has not been renovated for some years, and that it's not above showing the occasional re-run morning show.
However, advertisers have added a completely new classification to accommodate the cineplex, above the A. Cineplexes now get the Premier rating.
Earlier ads in cinemas were largely restricted to screen, to films and slides. Now there's been a sea-change. Almost every available surface in cineplexes is available for advertising or branding.
To quote Shravan Shroff of Fame Adlabs, it was basically like an airport. There the consumption is taking a flight. Here the consumption is viewing a movie. Whenever the consumer is free and his mind is vacant, he looks at the place before the movie, during the interval and after the movie. A lot of brands understand this and then, in multiplexes the category of people coming in is very different from people going to any other theatre in a not-so-upmarket area. We give them a quality captive audience.
Branding earns Fame Adlabs 12-13% of its revenue. PVR Cinemas actually have an online customer profile for potential advertisers which among other things, tells you that 85% of their customers have bought or leased a new or used car in the past.
Investment certainty in multiplexes.
This the story of how imagi.. the imagination of a consuming public, law and finance has come together in the creation of a cineplex culture. What I haven't spoken about, except in passing is the how crucial the creation of information is in this coming together.
Rajshree studios have a history of initiating technical innovation in the exhibition business. While making Hum Aapke Hain Kaun in '93-'94, they asked Vinod Nichani of Professional e-solutions to develop a management information system for them to make sense of all the data coming in from theatres and distributors.
Incidentally, Hum Aapka Hain Kaun was the first film post cable TV which did not release its videos even to television channels for fear of piracy, of an uncontrollable audience.
Professional e-solutions developed 'Showbiz', a software which analyses data out of theatre returns, and makes forecasts. What would Showbiz have done with the data collected by Rajshree's questionnaires before the release of their next film, Hum Saath Saath Hain, which I spoke about at the beginning of the paper. What sort of a social imaginary of the audience is encoded into the software? The film industry has a long history of well worked out mechanisms of collecting and publishing the collection figures from over twelve thousand screens all over the country.
But before the coming of the multiplexes, these collection figures were always disputed, and contested between producers, distributors and exhibitors, and in all multiplex cinemas they still are.
Producers would and do accuse the theatres of giving them lower numbers than actual occupancy in order to cheat on returns. According to Business World, just about half of the money collected at box offices ever shows up officially.
Computerised ticketing in the multiplexes is supposed to do away with such practices, to make it impossible to fill a seat without accounting for it. But that's not the only reason that MISs are integral to the cineplex experience.
To quote Business World, software products like Vista and Showbiz now help theatres decide on food stocking levels, movie schedules and ticket prices among a host of other things. They can account for every rupee spent and earned, cut costs, maximise revenues or simply optimise operations. In the Wild West of the Indian film industry, that ability makes multiplexes a hit with investors.
That is evident in the fact that exhibition has attracted four times the investment that has gone into production and distribution ever since the film sector opened up.
Software encodes for investors and exhibitors the glorious certainties of a social imaginary. It predicts with assurance the social composition of its audience, of the particular segment within it which will watch a certain film, look at certain ads, and whether this audience is likely to eat samosas or hot dogs, and how many.
It allows them to know whether an audience will like a film or not based on its genre, star cast, the past movies of the director and how well it did, and the hype surrounding the film. They use these certainties to play hardball with advertisers, producers and distributors, while negotiating terms of profit-sharing.
Cineplexes currently make up only 1% of the screens in the country, but the high returns generated and the hype around them make them far more important economically. This affects the way movies are made, and not just those identified as multiplex movies.
But what about the worlds that are left outside the social imaginary of the multiplex? How does the knowledge generated relate to those worlds? What about the figure of the sweeper within the multiplex, who despite the strange dignity of his uniform, and the 20% discount the cinema offers him and his family, can probably not afford to watch a film in the hall that he works for. What about the space immediately outside the cinema hall where along with such elite hangout places such as Ruby Tuesday, there are also secondhand and pirated patriwallah book stalls, panwallahs, chaiwallahs, moongfuliwallahs and beggars.
Despite the rhetoric and knowledge of an elite clientele, the claims to the spaces around the cinema hall and to the leisure time of its patrons are multiple and diverse.
Despite the social certainties that the cineplex creates, it is also a space marked by precarity. For the cineplex is often firmly located within the speculatory economy of mall development, fueled to a large extent by the 'knowledge' of the cineplex's elite audience, the cinema is considered the main attractor for many malls, but the logic of mall building and financing often has very little to do with the possible returns from any realistic figure of people coming to the malls.
Cinema managers are secretive because of competition. For example, Wave Noida, so far locationally unchallenged, is now going to be facing a PVR multiplex only a couple of kilometres away. PVR Anupam is now going to see five malls coming up a kilometre away from it. The tax breaks for many halls.. for many cineplexes are running out. The number of multiplexes is multiplying. The certainties of the plentiful elite audience is already becoming uncertain.
Will the cineplex continue to know itself as an exclusively elite space? Will there be another imagination of the gentry? In times of flux, it is best to reserve judgment.
The precariousness of the multiplex industry in the future. Taneja finishes.