Under fire for its controversial directive asking private multiplexes in the state to show Marathi movies in 6-9 PM slot, Maharashtra Government today relaxed norms as per which Marathi films can now be screened between 12 noon to 9 PM.
After today’s decision, Marathi films can be screened on any one screen in multiplexes any time between 12 PM to 9 PM, depending on the demand of the producer to the exhibitor.
The decision followed a meeting between Cultural Affairs Minister Vinod Tawde and representatives of multiplexes and Marathi film producers.
“Though the 6 PM to 9 PM prime slot will be a priority, it was decided at the meeting that if a film producer demands another slot after 12 noon, he will be given it,” Tawde told reporters at Vidhan Bhawan.
In case of any dispute, the matter will go to a four-member committee comprising representatives of multiplexes and Marathi film producers, the minister said.
“Marathi film producers had complained earlier that the multiplexes, who had agreed to the state government stipulation of screening 124 Marathi films a year, were showing them at odd timings, mostly in early morning slots,” Tawde said.
“Today, we decided that Marathi films can be screened on any one screen in multiplexes any time between 12 PM to 9 PM, depending on the demand of the producer to the exhibitor (multiplex). No Marathi film should be screened in the multiplexes before 12 noon, the minister said.
The government had earlier issued a directive making it mandatory for multiplexes in the state to screen Marathi movies during prime time slots of 6-9 PM.
On columnist Shobhaa De’s criticism of the previous move, the minister said, “What she said is her freedom of expression. She has the right to freedom of expression. If she has any grievance on the decision, she can approach the government.”
Apart from drawing flak from Bollywood and certain cultural quarters who saw it as a coercive move, the decision has paved the way for a confrontation between the ruling partner Shiv Sena and De.
Sena today carried a stinging editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamna’ and also staged a vehement protest outside her residence in the city.
Filmmakers welcomed the state government’s decision to relax norms for the multiplexes by moving the screening of Marathi films between 12 noon and 9 PM compared to the earlier time slot of 6-9 PM.
Director-producer Mahesh Bhatt said, “In a globalised world regional identity will assert itself. Storytellers and cinema makers will be carriers of this aspiration… I think together as brothers we will resolve the problem and see that we co-exist…”
Director Sudhir Mishra welcomed the new decision.
“I am glad that we all are talking rationally now… Marathi films deserve a time slot but beyond that there shouldn’t be any diktat,” he said.