Movies, me, and the markets…
As I said in one of my earlier blogs, I am against over-protectionism, and a believer in free markets. Despite that, I fail to understand the rationale behind movie-ticket pricing in Bangalore’s multiplexes. It all started off with Hum aapke Hai kaun, a good fifteen years back. Rajashri, the producers and distributors of the movie asked the theatres to upgrade to Dolby if they wanted to screen what then went on to become one of the biggest hits. The theatre owners duly complied, and duly passed on the extra cost to the theatre-goers. Fair enough. That’s how markets work.
Cut to the present: multiplexes become the gold standard for watching a movie, at least for the middle class who cannot afford a home theatre. The prices started off with Rs 70, and in just a matter of two years have gone up to Rs 300. And I am not even talking of the Gold Class. That anyways was meant to be exclusive. And again, there are different rates depending on whether you are watching the movie on a weekday or weekend.
With Jodhaa Akbar, it has gotten even more unpredictable. There are different rates for weekdays, weekends, and the time at which you are watching the movie on those days. Soon, we may have to develop a software to know how much to pay for a movie on a particular day and time.
After all the rabble rousing, what exactly is my grouse? I have watched movies in Noida, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Mumbai, the most happening places mall-wise excluding Gurgaon. Nowhere do I see such differential pricing except in Bangalore. The same PVR that prices its tickets at Rs 300 in Bangalore prices it at Rs 70 – Rs 90 in Delhi, and at a different rate in Chennai. In Chennai, I know the Government calls the shots, but in Delhi, I have heard of no such control mechanism. So, why does the Bangalorean have to pay more? Our previous government was so busy making money and trying to protect its chairs that it is not a surprise they even thought of asking this question on behalf of the common man. And now, with no Government, there is no one left to ask except people like us who are so ridiculously addicted to the silver screen, who spend our hard earned money to make those rich people on screen richer by another few crores. Worse, all the cheaper theatres are closing down one by one so that you are at the mercy of the PVRs and Inoxes for your weekly dose of entertainment.
When the movie-goer in other parts of India pays a much lesser price than the one in Bangalore for the same movie-going experience to the same people who put it up on the screens, the logic of free markets fails me. Maybe I will just watch Jodhaa Akbar after a fortnight; maybe I will watch it on a weekday on a hot afternoon; maybe I will just download a pirated copy off the internet and watch it at home and cock a snook at the multiplex guys…after all, it is not only the markets that have a choice.