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Indian cinemascope rejuvenation
Jeeva Gaanam 1992
     
"Kitne aadmi thhe?" (How many of them were there?)

"Doh!" (Two!)

"Woh doh thhe AUR tum teen thhe" (Two of them and three of you, huh!)

"Phir bhi aagaye KHALI HATH!!" (Yet, you returned EMPTY HANDED)

"Aab tera kya hoga Kaliaa?" (What will happen with you, Kaalia?)

These are a few lines from one of Bollywood's longest running pictures and most popular movies. Even though it was a rather violent movie, 'Sholay' starring Amitabh Bachan and Amjad Khan was popular because of its "tug-at-the-heartstrings" storyline and its melodic songs.


'Sholay' was popular because of its "tug-at-the-heartstrings" storyline and its melodic songs. These lines lead us to ask the inevitable questions: What will happen to the local Indian cinemas? Will they close down after some time?

These lines lead us to ask the inevitable questions: What will happen to the local Indian cinemas? Will they close down after some time?

Indian movies be it Hindi, Tamil or Malayallee strikes any movie goer as being long-winded, stereotyped and unimaginative. One may even say that if you watch the first ten minutes of the movie you will know what is going to happen in the end.

Given all this, why are local audiences returning to cinemas to see big-screen versions of Hindi and Tamil films? Has it something to do with its popularity in the 60s and 70s when Indian movies were clearly at its peak. The days when hundreds of people of all ages and creed flocked to the "Singapura", "State" and "Galaxy" cinemas.



Indian movies be it Hindi, Tamil or Malayallee strikes any movie goer as being long-winded, stereotyped and unimaginative.

These days, sad to say, movies are popular only if they have lots of violence. According to the assistant manager of New Happy cinema in Geyland: "Violence makes money. Movies like 'Devar Magan' (a hit Tamil film) are very popular and I don't feel like taking it off."

The cinema established in 1932, has been around to see the heyday of Indian cinemas in the 60s and 70s, as well as its tragic decline in the 80s.

So why the revival of Indian cinemas? Businessman K Shanumuganathan, who runs a successful video operation says that he experimented with the hit movie "Thalapathi" (starring superstar Rajnikanth) at Hoover Theatre in late 1991. A total of 15,000 tickets were sold. So its not surprising why he carried on.

When asked why the format of changing movies for every show a day he says, "We're catering to an Indian audience of 100,000 so we cannot run the same movies all day unless its a big movie. A normal movie attracts an average attendance of 200 people while a hit attracts about 800 people."

Surprisingly, some video shop owners feel there is not much competition between the cinema and video industry.

"The cinema doesn't affect my business. I've been in this business for 10 years and I've got my regular customers," says Mr Musal, owner of Shafina Video Vision at Peace Centre. In fact the only competition there is for cinema is that of pirated tapes coming from India, Taiwan and even Africa.

"Piracy is decreasing slowly because of new laws but it can't be stopped totally," says the assistant manager of New Happy Theatre.

Foreign workers and teenagers are normal patrons of the cinemas, going there to interact and meet members of the opposite sex. In the past there was a cult following towards actors like Rajesh Khanna, Dev Anand, Sivaji Ganesa and the late MG Ramachandran. Their popularity could be compared to James Dean and contemporary actor Tom Cruise.

Malays and young womenfolk rushed to see their idols on the silver screen even though some of them could not understand the language.

So long as there are local Indian cinemas, there will definitely be patrons, even though their objectives for watching may differ.
     

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