Hollywood returns to Imphal, fast and furious - First English movie after a decade draws huge crowds to Usha Cinema in the Manipur capital
|Movie buffs wait for tickets in front of Usha Cinema on Friday. Telegraph picture|
Imphal, June 24: Hollywood movie buffs here are on cloud nine as a local movie house, Usha Cinema, started screening the Vin Diesel starrer Fast and Furious 5 today after an interregnum of nearly a decade.
“It is good to have an opportunity to see an English movie on the big screen. It is my first time,” L. Naocha Singh, 19, said after the first show.
The last time an English movie was screened here was sometime in 2001. Usha Cinema screened its last English movie — Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace — in 1999.
After screening of Hindi movies was banned in Manipur by the Revolutionary Peoples Front (RPF) in 2000, a few of the 10 movie houses here closed shop and were replaced by educational institutions and shopping complexes while a few others switched to screening English movies.
Around the same time Manipuri digital film industry started booming and all movie houses, including Usha, turned to Manipuri films. English movies gradually faded out of the big screens.
“At that time, when Hindi films were withdrawn, Manipuri films came as a new experiment, drawing audiences. Naturally, less and less people were coming for the English ones. In this manner English movies died a natural death,” Y. Shyamsunder, manager of Usha Cinema, said.
But now, Manipuri films were witnessing a sharp decline in viewership, which prompted the Usha Cinema management to try a hand at screening Hollywood productions to woo viewers back down the aisles, he added.
Given the response to the first two shows, the “experiment” has been a runaway hit.
While the morning show was nearly a sellout, the afternoon show saw a full house. “The response was beyond our expectations,” Shyamsunder said, adding that they were planning to be one of the halls in India to release the latest Harry Potter movie — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 — on July 15.
The blackmarketeers could not have been happier. “I did good business today. I earned about Rs 200 more than usual,” Manishang, who sells tickets clandestinely, said.
The hall has 900 seats in three classes — upper (Rs 25), special (Rs 20) and deluxe (Rs 15). But for those who purchased tickets in ‘black’ today, the upper class tickets fetched Rs 50, special Rs 30 and deluxe Rs 25.
“Just before the second show started at 2pm, a huge crowd gathered in front of the hall, blocking traffic. We had a tough time regulating traffic,” a police official said.