Will TS, AP exhibitors heed Rajini’s call?

Will TS, AP exhibitors heed Rajini’s call?
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Highlights

With less than two weeks left for the grand worldwide release of Rajinikanths muchawaited scifi thriller, 20, superstar Rajinikanth has sent out a strict warning to all his fan clubs not to sell tickets in black

With less than two weeks left for the grand worldwide release of Rajinikanth’s much-awaited sci-fi thriller, `2.0,’ superstar Rajinikanth has sent out a strict warning to all his fan clubs not to sell tickets in black. But in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it is the exhibitors who loot the gullible viewers by selling tickets by 8 to 10 times more than the actual rate, instead of the fans. “With more than Rs 80 crore riding on ‘2.0’ in the two Telugu states, the exhibitors will hike the ticket rates to extract opening collections and loot gullible viewers,” laments distributor Bharat Bhushan.

Over the years, the unholy syndicate of exhibitors-black market thugs-local politicians selling tickets of Rs 30 and Rs 100 for Rs 200 and Rs 500 for the first three days, the fleecing of viewers is going on unabated in the two Telugu states, as police and tax officials look the other way. Now-a-days, selling tickets in black has become an official business, thanks to lessees who hold control over the 1,000-odd theatres across TS and AP. “It is a peculiar situation in the two Telugu states, where lessees in the guise of exhibitors exploit poor viewers. They conduct `ticket auction’ in the 40-odd districts to loot gullible viewers and fill their large pockets,” laments producer N Padmini, office-bearer of Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce.

"For example, a theatre with 500 seating capacity with unofficial ticket price of Rs 200, would fix a base price of Rs. 1,00,000 per show. Now, bidders would hike the price depending on popularity of the star and it would go up to Rs 1,50,000 or even Rs. 2,00,000. In turn, these black market guys sell those tickets at Rs. 200 or 300 per head to recover their investment and brutally exploit star-crazy viewers even in remote villages,’ she adds. However, while remitting GST per ticket, they would calculate it on the original ticket rate and rest of the 8 to 10 times of excess money earned goes into the pockets of a few individuals. "This ill-gotten money is shared by rich-lessees, black market thugs and local politicians, while the police and tax officials look the other way,” alleges producer C N Rao.

Until the two State governments and the Centre take severe action against these looters, the menace of black marketing cannot be curbed. “For die-hard fans, there is nothing like watching the 'first day first show' of their favourite stars and don't mind paying any price. That doesn't mean that the police and other officials concerned should keep quiet. Rather, they should form action teams to curb this auctioning practice and ensure genuine online booking and tickets to people who stand in long queues. Hope it starts with ‘2.0’,” concludes producer Radha Rajeswari.

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