The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Reality forces cinemas to stick to Hindi reel

Guwahati, Nov. 10: The Northeast film industry today decided to continue screening Hindi films despite a militant-imposed ban, but clarified that it was guided by the instinct to survive rather than determination to defy the diktat.

Representatives of all wings of the industry met at the Jyoti Chitraban studio here at the initiative of the Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA) and appealed to the militant leadership to “review and lift the ban in the larger interest of regional films”.

The ban on Hindi films was announced jointly by nine militant groups a few months ago and repeated by the Ulfa recently. It is to take effect on November 15.

A steering committee comprising 15 representatives of all sections of the industry was formed at the meeting. Actor Pranjal Saikia is the convener of the panel, which will henceforth take all decisions on the subject.

Film producers, distributors, exhibitors, senior artistes representing the Chalachitra Shilpi Unnayan Sanstha, technicians, cinema hall owners and members of the Cinema Hall Employees’ Association participated in the deliberations.

“We are appealing to the extremist organisations to review their decision. The ban must be lifted if the regional film industry has to survive. Hindi films will continue to be screened until the time the outfits realise the foolhardiness of the ban and lift it,” states a resolution adopted at the meeting.

Justifying the decision to continue screening Hindi films, it says: “If Hindi films are not screened in the theatres, they will have to shut shop. This, in turn, will sound the death knell for the regional film industry, which even now is struggling for survival.”

The steering committee is planning a hungerstrike on November 13 in the Dighalipukhuri area of the city to protest the ban. “Our main objective is to ensure that regional cinema does not suffer. Since a limited number of regional films alone cannot keep the theatres going, hall owners will be forced to convert these into supermarkets. Where will we screen regional movies then'” Saikia asked.

The veteran actor said the closure of cinema halls would render a large section of “indigenous uneducated people” unemployed.

The EIMPA was the first to make an appeal to the militant leadership to reconsider the decision to ban Hindi films. It said the livelihood of about 50,000 families was at stake, but the appeal did not evoke a positive response. A similar request by the Sadou Asom Bolsobi Karmi Santha, which is the apex organisation of cinema hall workers, fell on deaf ears.

Saikia said the EIMPA had resolved not to screen any obscene film. This should satisfy the militant groups. “The meeting reiterated an earlier decision taken by the EIMPA not to screen obscene or vulgar Hindi movies in halls across the Northeast. Regional filmmakers have already been asked to faithfully portray our culture,” he said.

The meeting made a case for setting up a common platform for the Northeast film fraternity and urged the Assam government to implement its film policy.

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