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BW Businessworld

Call For Helping India's Single-Screen Theatres

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Prominent film industry people have called for government incentives to help India's struggling single-screen theatres in the face of a growing multiplex culture.
Participating in a Businesswrold event, Liberty Cinemas owner Nazir Hoosien said some single-screen cinemas are local landmarks and their legacy should be preserved.
"In Mumbai some of the exquisite cinemas are falling to rack and ruin. They should be given incentives to thrive. Single screens have the potential to become tourist attractions," Hoosien said.
People's film viewing habits have changed over the years, but many visit theatres like Liberty because of their historical past and architecture attached to them, he said, during in a discussion at The Fridays - BW | Businessworld Cinema Exhibition Awards & Conference in Mumbai recently.
Manmohan Shetty, a pioneer of multiplex culture in India and chairman of Adlabs Entertainment, said since the inception of multiplexes in 2001 moviegoers are comfortable paying more for the quality of their cinema experience.
"Moreover, there is a huge amount of money and effort (invested) in showcasing quality product, which will go waste if we lack proper medium. It is the multiplexes which bring business and revenue for the film fraternity," Shetty argued.
The government could help single screens by offering them tax breaks, the participants said.
On the issue of co-existence, Shetty said single screens will have to become more competitive to attract audiences.
Families look for facilities such as parking and multiple movie choices in one place and these are easily available at multiplexes, he said.
"If single screen comes out with these facilities they have all the chances to survive with the multiplexes," he said.
The session was also attended by Rafiquee Baghdadi, journalist and historian, and its moderator was Rafeeq Ellias, an award winning photographer and filmmaker.
The event attracted some of India's top cinema and entertainment experts.
Another session focused on the future of theatres and how to rejuvenate them.
Pranav Ashar, founder of  Matterden Centre,  Rahul Puri, managing director of Mukta Arts, Amit Khanna, former chairman of Reliance Entertainment, Ramesh Nair, international director and chief operating officer of Jones Lang LaSalle participated in the session moderated by Bharti Dubey, a well-known film journalist.
Khanna lamented that busy modern lifestyles restrict people from going to a theatre and enjoy cinema.
He predicted that in five years multiplexes will break down into a large single screen with more advanced technology and that will turn cinema into "more of an experiential thing."
Ashar said "experiential cinema" has already started in Britain and it will take over the current multiplex culture so there was no need for an argument between single screens and multiplexes.