Baahubali mania: Black market mafia makes hay
Even though, ‘Baahubali 2’ fetched laurels for Telugu cinema by shattering box-office records across the world in its first week, on the flipside, black market mafia rose its ugly head and looted the hard-earned money of poor and middle-class viewers in AP, TS reportedly to the tune of Rs 30 crore. Cashing in on the craze of the epic fantasy, viewers rushed to buy tickets at counters, but hundreds
Even though, ‘Baahubali 2’ fetched laurels for Telugu cinema by shattering box-office records across the world in its first week, on the flipside, black market mafia rose its ugly head and looted the hard-earned money of poor and middle-class viewers in AP, TS reportedly to the tune of Rs 30 crore. Cashing in on the craze of the epic fantasy, viewers rushed to buy tickets at counters, but hundreds of single theatres hung ‘housefull’ boards and sold tickets in black.
Similarly, even online bookings in multiplexes extracted their pound of flesh by selling combo offers and sold a Rs 150 ticket for Rs 400 by making snacks and drinks mandatory. Although, the two Telugu states allowed hike of ticket rates up to Rs 100 and permitted additional shows, some theatre lessees-goons-local politicians formed a nexus and reportedly sold Rs 10 ticket for Rs 1,000 and Rs 100 ticket for 2,000 for many days in the first week. With Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments turning a blind eye, black market mafia went berserk and left the viewers high and dry.
“Lakhs of ‘Baahubali’ viewers were exploited in every possible way in the last one week and they were made to run from pillar to post for a ticket in hot summer in both Telugu states since most of single screens hung housefull board and sold tickets in the black and the lesser said about the online booking loot, the better,” rues distributor Ramakrishna who said advance booking was just a myth and shut down after 10 minutes. “They hoodwinked people and government officials and made a killing of more than Rs 30 crore in just one week” adds producer N Padmini.
Even though, TS government warned of action against black marketing and exorbitant combo ticket offers, it was confined to paper only even as the theatre lobby and multiplexes ran amok and pocketed big sums, at the cost of students, families and low-rung rickshaw pullers and auto-drivers. “Most of the film viewers are lower-rung daily wage labourers, auto drivers and poor families but they were looted by big fish”, says distributor Srinivas.
Sharing the details of exploitation in neighbouring state, distributor Nagi Reddy adds, “It was no better in Andhra Pradesh, since the strong theatre lobby in Vijayawada, Vizag and other major centres sold tickets for Rs 1000 and Rs 2000, while government officials looked the other way. Both the governments should wake up from slumber and curb the menace from second week and allow the poor viewers to enjoy their favourite film at normal ticket rates,” he concludes.