The ongoing strike in the Tamil film industry has disrupted the release of new films, but has paved the way for the second coming of old blockbusters. No new Tamil films have been released in the state since March 1, when Tamil producers launched a protest against the fee charged by digital service providers to screen movies in theatres.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Tamil hits starring MG Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth are once gracing Chennai’s theatres amid the strike, to the delight of movie goers. The report said that Chennai’s Albert Theatre is screening MGR’s 1965 hit Enga Veettu Pillai and will also screen the actor’s Nadodi Mannan (1958), this week.
“My eyes well up even today when I watch him onscreen. He is like a part of our family,” Gururaj, a lifelong fan of MGR, told the newspaper.
Though the strike was called by all the southern film industries, the Tamil industry is the only one which is yet to resolve the standoff with digital service providers, like Qube and UFO, over the virtual print fee and weekly rental fee charged by them to exhibit films in theatres.
The Karnataka and Kerala film industries held a day-long strike, while the Telugu producers agreed to call off their protest earlier this month after agreeing to a reduced fee. However, the Tamil Film Producers Council reportedly wants the virtual print fee to be waived off entirely. It has also demanded additional changes such as reduction in online booking fees and further flexibility of ticket prices. The Tamil industry on March 16 broadened the scope of the protest and halted all production and post-production work in the state, including film shoots and movie and trailer launches.
The stalemate has hurt the industry and worried moviegoers.
In a parallel protest, nearly 950 theatre owners outside Chennai have closed down their establishments to demand the scrapping of the local body entertainment tax that the government charges in addition to a Goods and Services Tax. According to the Hindu, only 146 theatres in Chennai and its suburbs and two multiplexes in Coimbatore are screening movies, most of which are non-Tamil.
The ongoing strike has disrupted the releases of several films. Big-ticket summer movies like Jayam Ravi-starrer Tik Tik Tik, Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam 2, and Rajinikanth-starrer Kaala, which was scheduled for an April 27 release, might also be delayed.