Kerala cinemas opened to NRIs

Idle land offered by various municipalities in the state

The government-owned Kerala State Films Development Corporation (KSFDC) is inviting expatriate businessmen and film producers to invest in a major project to set up multiplex cinema houses in all the municipalities of the south Indian state.

Speaking at a press meeting in Dubai organised by the Indian Media Forum, KSFDC chairman Sabu Cheriyan said the corporation is working with various municipalities to make available one acre of land in prime locations on 30-year lease to start high-tech cinema houses.

KSFDC, which was started in 1975 to facilitate production of Malayalam movies which were till then dominated by big Chennai-based studios, is at present renovating 10 theatres under its control.

“By investing Rs40 million, a state-of-the-art cinema house with a food court can be constructed. The cost of will be Rs270 million which will be made available by the municipalities. Each of the 60-odd municipalities in the state owns idle land which can be leased for 30 years. Non-resident Indians can make use of this investment opportunity. If there is a cinema house within a shopping complex, there will be people to shop. The municipality will get taxes too,” Cheriyan said.

 “A number of recent Malayalam films like ‘Ordinary’ and ‘Mayamohini’ have done very well at the box office mainly because rampant piracy, a bane of the film industry, has been brought under control.

“A theatre in Bengaluru, which used to copy Malayalam movies just before the movie is released, was raided and an international racket in duplicating Malayalam movies was curbed. At present, an Indian businessman in London is active, selling pirated movies through the Internet, but look out notices have been issued for such people,” said Cheriyan, a film producer himself.

“Mushrooming Malayalam TV channels have contributed to the escalating cost of shooting a movie because the channels offer huge rates to get satellite broadcasting rights to the artists,” he said.

He said with the arrival of digital films, the cost of running the movies in 70-odd theatres has also come down. “Earlier a theatre owner had to pay Rs4 million to get the film print. Now they have to pay only for the movie’s run. We expect 18 hit movies in 2012 because piracy is under control. The big theatres in the state will be divided into multiple theatres because half the space is always empty due to lack of viewers. A fun city in Kovalam is planned on 70 acres of land in which Keralite NRIs are invited to invest,” Cheriyan said.

He advised several NRI film producers in Dubai to guard against getting cheated by a nexus of technicians and film directors who inflate the production cost causing huge loss to the film makers.

“Most NRI film producers are attracted by the glamour of the film industry. Most of them are not physically present at the shooting sites where the big chunk of the film’s cost is spent which makes it easy for directors and technicians to cheat the producer,” he added.

He also said KSFDC will be organising a three-day film festival in Dubai.

Cheriyan also said K Ganesh Kumar, actor-turned-politician and Kerala’s minster in charge of cinema, is taking several initiatives to revive the ailing Malayalam film industry which suffered several flop releases due to high fees charged by the superstars and other escalating costs due to stiff competition among TV channels to get satellite broadcasting rights.

Indian Media Forum President N Vijayamohan presided at the meeting.

(Image courtesy Shutterstock)

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