KATHMANDU, Oct 10: The decision of the CPN Maoist to ban the screening of Hindi movies across the country forced the cinema halls in Nepal to shut down its showcase of Hindi movies for the past 10 days.
Speaking earlier to Republica, Ashok Sharma, Managing Director of Digital Cinema Nepal, the body which looks after the distribution and exhibition of movies, estimated a loss of Rs 20 to 25 million in total average for cinema halls during this time period.
“People have the misconception that banning Hindi movies would attract the audience towards Nepali movies, thus increasing its viewer ship. But it isn’t so. We have learnt this from a similar ban in Nepal, 17 years ago,” says Sharma.
According to him, the loss incurred has been cushioned by the fact that even in the Hindi film industry, not many potential blockbusters were released during this time period. “Had a lot of good movies been released, the loss would be very significant,” he says.
Bharat Singh, Country Manager of Big Cinemas Nepal, says, “Without Hindi movies, we have had very minute occupancy in our theatres. We haven’t been able to pull the crowd.” Big Cinemas has been operating only two of its theatres with Nepali movies.
Meanwhile, due to the lack of quality Nepali movies, QFX Cinemas were forced to close down operations from October 1 and later operated with a total 16 shows everyday across its three outlets. Earlier, QFX Central alone showcased 18-19 movies daily. The theatres re-opened again with the releasing of Nepali movies, Visa Girl and Letter.
“We have only had 20% of our total business, since the ban,” shares Surendra Thapa, Manager at QFX Central, Sundhara.
Sharma adds that the three Nepali movies released, namely Visa Girl, Jai Hos and Letter, has not been able to garner a lot of audience in the halls. “Earlier, the Hindi-movie viewing crowd and the Nepali-movie viewing crowd were different and hence cinema halls profited from large audiences. But now that all the cinemas are forced to show Nepali movies, the cinema halls are operating with sparse viewers,” adds Sharma.
“The way to gain viewer ship for Nepali movies is to produce quality movies. When movies like Loot, Chapali Height and Saayad were released, they were more popular than the Hindi movies released simultaneously,” he adds, “We should be competing Hindi movies, not banning them. After all, its better movies that generate better business.”
According to Sharma, in Nepal, excluding the Terai region, 80% of the revenue of cinema halls comes from Nepali movies.
Movie halls across Nepal will start showcasing Hindi movies from Friday onwards, informs Sharma.