‘The Kerala Story’ movie is being screened in only one theatre in West Bengal but it is evoking a good response from the audience, an official of the Eastern India Motion Picture Association (EIMPA) said on Thursday.
The Supreme Court on May 18 set aside the West Bengal government’s ban on screening of the controversial movie in the state. The Mamata Banerjee administration, while imposing the ban on May 8, had cited fears that the movie, if screened in theatres, could fan communal passions.
While theatre owners in other halls have not shown the willingness to show the movie, a cinema hall in Bongaon town in North 24 Parganas district near the India-Bangladesh border is screening the movie since May 20, with a disclaimer that the “narratives are based on fictional accounts”.
“Sreema Cinema Hall on Ramnagar Road in Bongaon, around 75 km from Kolkata, is screening the movie but we do not have knowledge whether any other theatre in the state is showing the film,” the office-bearer of EIMPA, the apex body of cinema hall owners and distributors of the eastern region, told PTI.
After the state government imposed the ban on the film’s screening, around 60 halls showing it started allotting its slots to other Bengali, Hindi and English movies and now, barring one, all cite the inability to resume screening, he said.
“We offered them several time slots but they did not show any inclination to screen the film,” he said.
Satadip Saha, on behalf of the film’s distributors SSR Cinema, said, “The movie is being screened in only one theatre despite us assuring the hall owners that they would not face any legal hurdle if they screen the movie after May 18.” Ratan Saha, chairman of the exhibition section of EIMPA, in an earlier letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, wrote, “Currently cinema halls are struggling as audiences are not coming to theatres in large numbers. However, ‘The Kerala Story’ had a successful three-day run giving some relief to the hall owners. So, I request you to make arrangements to facilitate the screening of the film in the state for the interest of cinema.”
Ratan Saha, who is also a co-owner of Ajanta Cinema in South Kolkata, said, “It is up to the respective hall owner to take the decision (to screen the movie), the EIPMA cannot ask them to. As far as I know, the distributors are ready if any other hall owner shows interest.” The movie’s director Sudipto Sen, in a press conference in Kolkata on May 19, had claimed that many hall owners have informed him that they were threatened and asked not to screen the film. He had said that the movie will certainly be released on OTT platforms later but it was “meant for viewing on the large screen”.
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