Andhra Pradesh Entertainment

Will Andhra government’s online film ticket sale save Tollywood?

VIJAYAWADA: The decision of the AP government to introduce the online sale of cinema tickets through government portals kicked up a political storm, with Janasena chief Pawan Kalyan questioning the ‘motives’ behind it.

The other day, during a pre-release function of a Telugu film, the actor-politician accused the government of coming up with the online sale idea only to raise loans so as to fill its empty coffers. The very next day, Minister for Information and Public Relations Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani) and other ministers, in a befitting reply, said the proposal for the online sale of tickets came from the film industry itself, with an objective for greater transparency.

So what is online cinema ticket selling and what benefits does it hold? Sometime around 2006, the film industry mooted a proposal to computerise cinema ticketing system and it has repeatedly requested the governments to implement the same.

The objective was to curb the sale of ‘black tickets’ that burden the public and thereby bring greater transparency, which would benefit both the producers and the cinema-goers. It also helps in auditing the number of tickets sold theatre-wise, income generated and accordingly calculate GST, so the government does not lose its revenue.

However, for some reason, the same could not materialise and representatives from the film industry met Perni Nani on September 20 and sought the transparent online sale of cinema tickets and the government proposed the sale of tickets through a government portal. A committee was set up to work out modalities for the same.

“The proposal for computerisation of tickets and the online sale was from the film industry, so as to benefit the producers and people at large and at the same time to bring transparency. What we want is to involve the Film Chambers and the Film Development Corporation in the process. We insist on only one thing: monetary transactions on a daily basis, not delayed or deferred payments. If it is ensured, there would not be any objection if the government runs the portal,” a well-known producer, on the condition of anonymity, told .

Another issue raised before the government was the fixation of ticket prices and if the price is below Rs100 it would not be feasible, given the increased cost of film production. “We seek Rs100 per ticket for theatres in villages and Rs 150 for tickets in towns and cities,” explained another producer and film-maker, who too wished not to be named.

He opined that Pawan Kalyan’s outburst the other day during a film pre-release was out of place.
Several producers admit that cost of film production has increased manifold over the years with the main reason being the increase in remuneration of actors and directors, which keeps on increasing from film to film. It is estimated that nearly 60 per cent of the cost of production is remunerations. The other reason for the escalation of production cost is the increasing tax burden during the production phase over the years.

According to an expert in the movie trade industry, the real objective of the proposed system is to curb unfair trade practices. Pointing out that right from film production to film distribution and exhibition in Telugu film industry is in the hands of a few families, he said such a monopoly is leading to unfair practices, giving no scope for small-time film-makers to survive in the industry.