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May 8, 2002 | 1525 IST
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Gujarat takes toll on film distribution

Savio G Pinto

The ongoing disturbances in Gujarat have taken its toll on the Hindi film industry with distributors and exhibitors showing reluctance to buy movie rights for the region. Consequently, distribution rates in the Gujarat-Saurashtra region have dropped by almost 50 per cent.

The ongoing disturbances have come as a big setback for the industry, and for the region in particular, which was just beginning to recover from the impact of last year's earthquake.

According to Shyam Shroff, director, Shringar Films, one of the leading distributors for Hindi films: "With the Gujarat-Saurashtra region comprising almost fifty per cent of the western territory revenues, no distributor is willing to take up the distribution rights for this region. Consequently, the rates have crashed by almost 50 per cent."

The western territory also includes the generally lucrative Mumbai region, large parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa, Daman and Diu.

While industry sources agree that rates have plummeted by almost 50 per cent, no exact value for the territory could be determined since movie rights differ from one movie to another depending on the product.

Rights could be purchased for as little as Rs 2.5 million or could be as much as Rs 30 million for a big budget movie.

Taran Adarsh, editor, Trade Guide, said: "At this juncture, entertainment is last on the minds of anyone in these areas. It is the question of survival which the people are grappling with. There have hardly been any shows since the outbreak of violence. If there are shows, then there is no audience."

For the moment, filmmakers have no option but to be innovative in trying to make the best of the situation. While some are taking on the onus of distribution in the entire western region themselves, some others are contemplating bifurcating the western territory and retaining the rights of the Gujarat region.

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