New films on TV..good or bad?

By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Dec 9 (IANS) New movies are increasingly being beamed to homes not long after their release, thanks to Direct To Home (DTH) television or channels buying the screening rights early. While many members of the film fraternity support the trend, saying that films nowadays don't have a long shelf life, there are some who don't.

The latest to hit the small screen is Katrina Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor-starrer "Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani" -- it will be shown on Colors channel as their yearender whammy.

"The satellite premiere of 'Ajab...' is happening in December end, which is two months after its theatrical release. The theatrical business nowadays is for four weeks, however successful the film," Ramesh Taurani, producer of "Ajab...", told IANS.

Other films that have hit small screens soon after their release are "Blue", "Slumdog Millionnaire", Kaminey" and "What's Your Raashee?". This new trend has evoked mixed response from filmmakers.

Said Sajid Khan: "It's definitely healthier than downloading the film on the first day of release free of cost on the Internet."

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, known for introducing new trends in the filmmaking, said: "Change is inevitable. Bend like a bamboo and you'll survive. Resist like an unyielding oak and you'll perish."

Pritish Nandy too doesn't think airing an almost new film on TV is such a bad idea.

"If distributors are okay with it, no harm done. The market defines its own compulsions and if different segments are in sync with each other, I guess it is fine," Nandy said.

"The theatrical window is in any case shrinking by the Friday as more and more films are crowding theatres. Theatres should be happy to see movies move out to give room to new ones. That's the nature of the business today," he added.

David Dhawan echoed Nandy's view and said: "Tell me, which film lasts in theatres beyond two months?"

Producer-director Harry Baweja, reeling under the losses suffered by son Hurman's debut "Love Story 2050", too welcomes this new concept.

"We really need to maximize our films' box office performance. The theatrical collections sustain for two-three weeks at the most. The satellite rights are a better and quicker avenue to earn back a producers' investment," he said.

If these veterans are welcoming the change, there are others who feel insecure and say it can cause harm to the prospects of new films that have a longer shelf life than the average releases.

"When Colors showed 'Blue', it was on some level justifiable since the film tanked and had no shelf life. But 'Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani' is still running houseful in many centres.

"Now I'm scared my small movie when it releases in theatres in two months will have a simultaneous satellite screening. I just hope my producer sees sense," a young director said on condition of anonymity.

When Sohail Khan's "Main Aur Khanna" was screened on DTH just two days after the film's release, there was dismay in the film trade.

Anees Bazmi said: "This is not a healthy trend at all."

But Suneel Darshan feels one needs to test the trend before criticising it.

"This trend needs to be assessed closely by all sections of the industry namely producers, exhibitors and distributors before more damage is done to the already-troubled industry."

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