While the entire film industry has come to a grinding halt across the globe, the future looks bleak with the inevitable lockdown and social distancing measures to fight COVID-19, and its following effects in the coming days.
When such is the case, the film business is bound to take its own time to bounce back to normalcy. However, the Kannada film industry has more reasons to worry since the release of its new films will entirely depend on how soon Chennai will be able to fight against the spread of coronavirus.
Well, for those wondering with the connection of Chennai and the release of new Kannada films in the State, the problem rests with the providers of end-to-end digital cinema technology and solutions such as UFO and Qube. Other places in India where content can be transfered is Hyderabad and Mumbai. But Kannada producers depended on Chennai.
"Despite several requests, UFO and Qube, is yet to have operating centers in Bengaluru. As of now, such a facility is located in Chennai and the Kannada filmmakers are left with no option but to handover the digital content in person to them for uploading purpose," said film experts.
They further add that online transfer of censored film content is discouraged due to illegal hacking and online data theft. Hence, even Karnataka is declared safe from Coronavirus with no cases of COVID-19, the release of brand new Kannada film wholly depends on the situation of Chennai and how it fights the battle against the deadly virus.
Will the Kannada film producers take such a risk until the situation in Chennai comes under control, is another bigger question to be answered, they add. Presently, Chennai continues to be the worst affected cities due to coronavirus in Tamil Nadu.
Speaking to Chitraloka, Karnataka UFO GM Surendranath said, "We are aware about this problem. We will solve it soon."
The demand for dedicated uploading centres of digital cinema technology and solutions has gathered more support, so as to face difficult situations such as the outbreak of coronavirus, which makes it literally impossible to go to Chennai and other faraway places to get the film content uploaded for release purpose.
Until QUBE, UFO and others find a solution to this, Kannada film audience will be left with no choice but for watching re-run of the recently released movies which had to be stopped due to nationwide lockdown, which now stands extended till May 3.
Navarasa Nayaka Jaggesh, who learnt about the critical condition of Bullet Prakash at hospital from former KFCC president Sa Ra Govindu, had reached out to the actor by giving Rs 50,000 for medical expenses just an hour ago before his demise.
Speaking to Chitraloka, Mr. Sa Ra Govindu revealed that after he learnt about the critical condition of Bullet Prakash, he immediately shared it with Mr. Jaggesh, who wasted no time in doing his bit to help the actor. He said he gave Rs 50,000 for medical expenses but unfortunately, it is sad to learn that treatment failed and Bullet Prakash is no more amongst us.
"He will be dearly missed by the entire film industry and will be remembered forever for his contribution to Sandalwood," said Sa Ra Govindu.
Following 21 days of nationwide lock down until April 14, to ward off the widespread of Coronavirus, the fate of millions of daily wage workers including that of film workers. With the entire Kannada film industry coming to a standstill with all kinds of activities being stopped temporarily, the film workers are facing numerous difficulties to manage their daily life.
Realizing the plight of Kannada film workers, actor and politician Mr. Nikhil Kumarswamy had requested his father, Mr H D Kumaraswamy, former chief minister and also a film producer and distributor to step in to help the cause of the film workers in the State.
Following this, Mr Kumarswamy has immediately acted upon his son's concern by reaching to former KFCC former president Sa Ra Govindu by offering to give 30 Kgs of rice, 5 litres of oil, 5 Kg dal and 3 Kg of Sugar to all the workers. He has asked Mr Govindu to let him know where the essentials can be delivered, so as to be distributed to the film workers.
Since there is a lockdown everywhere, the distribution location is yet to be decided. Actor Ashok is the president of Okkutta and Sa Ra Govindu is a Honorary president of the association.
With nationwide lockdown until April 14 to fight against the spread of Coronavirus, all film related activities across the country have come to a complete halt. While all sections of the industry is badly hit including the film workers, it is the exhibitors who are facing the maximum heat with huge losses incurred by them.
According to the Karnataka Film Exhibitors Association president KV Chandrashekar there are nearly 600 single screen theatres in Karnataka in which around 13,000 employees work on daily basis in shifts with an monthly expenditure costing upto Rs. 15.50 crores per month.
Speaking to Chitraloka, Veeresh theatre owner Mr. K V Chandrashekar said, "For example, in our Veeresh theater, 20 people each work in two shifts which makes it to 40 in a day. In other theaters like Kapali, there were about 75 employees at one time. Altogether there are nearly 600 theaters in the State."
He goes on to add that whether the theater is operational or not, one has to shell out Rs. 15.50 crores per month for the employees alone as salaries and to their other facilities.
"In single theaters, the minimum salary of an employee is Rs 10,000, which cannot be paid in cash and it also includes payment such as PF and ESI, all of which amounts to Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 13,000/- per month. By taking into account the above, the exhibitors in the State have to pay at least Rs. 15.50 crs per month," he adds.
That's not all, exhibitors also have to pay for electricity, water, maintenance and other miscellaneous charges. "The minimum electricity bill would be Rs. 10,000, and water charges will also be Rs 10,000 per month if theatres are facilitated with sanitary connection." We have not taken the count of Parking, Canteen persons to the account.
On an average, the overall expenditure for exhibitors in the State would come around Rs 27.50 crores per month. This figure excludes multiplexes. Anybody can imagine how much theater persons have to suffer in the country when there are 11,500 single screen theater in India. here are he signs off.
Looks like the online ticketing portal - Book My Show has no respect to State Government's order issued in public interest due to Coronavirus outbreak, to temporarily shut down all cinema related activities including screening of movies in malls and theatres for a period of one week.
Despite Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announcing to temporarily close public screening of movies in theatres and malls along with other places and events, Book My Show has dared to function normally with no concern to either public's health and safety nor to the directions of the government.
Supporting the government's cause which is taken as preventive measures against the spread of the deadly virus, the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce and Film Exhibitors Association had also decided to abide by it by temporarily halting all film related activities and screening of movies in cinemas and theatres in the State.
However, Book My Show seems to be unaffected by all it as it is functioning normally.
When Chitraloka did a reality check across various platforms including Book My Show, to its surprise it was shocked to notice that Book My Show was functioning.
First, we at Chitraloka selected Robin theatre in Kengeri for booking tickets for Shivarjuna Movie for 2.30 PM show for 14th March and was shocked to see the booking went through. Then, we attempted to book for another movie and selected Maya Bazar Movie at Triveni theatre for 4.30 PM show and guess what, even the second attempt was successful with the bookings for the intended tickets.
Soon, Chitraloka contacted Thomas D'Souza, owner of Robin Theater and also former President of KFCC about tickets getting booked at his theatre through Book my Show portal, he simply denied saying it's impossible.
"We have closed our theatres and we are busy cleaning the theatres and no booking is done at theatre. When told we have already booked tickets through Book my Show he was shocked and told they have already informed Book My Show not to book the tickets at our theatre. This is surprising and they are violating the orders of Karnataka Government. We should respect the Government orders and look at the safety of the people from Coronavirus," said Mr Thomas D'Souza.
Even KFCC Vice President Umesh Banakar told that they will check upon the blunder and will come back soon regarding this.
Whereas Kannada Film Producers Association president DK Ramakrishna told that State Government has to take severe action against Book my show. "When the State Government has ordered to close the theaters for one week as a preventive measure then how come they are booking the tickets. If they are real Kannadigas then they would have respected the Chief Minister's words and also cared for the public. Even if they are outsiders they should not play with the health of the public," he wraps it up.