Not everything that happens in the film industry goes unnoticed and, in particular, the activities and operation of the cinema exhibition business. It seems that not all governments or ministries involved are convinced that the equation between filmmakers and the exploitation trade is balanced; that is, a level playing field is needed.

In the South, they seem more concerned about the survival of the film industry. Don’t forget that the actors there have fan clubs that count their members in the thousands of dollars. There, fans build temples and monuments in their idol’s name and bathe the banners of his new film in milk.

In the South, not so long ago, the film industry and politics were synonymous. To some extent, this remains true. A star has not retired; he instead embarked on a political career. But they never forgot to stand by their fraternity, the moviegoers.

Southern producers banded together and set certain standards for stars in terms of compensation and per diems paid as a result. In the Hindi film industry it is different. No one supports filmmakers. They have always been exploited and continue to be; earlier, by the authorities and now mainly by the exhibition trade and also by the stars.

Letting the stars put themselves in such a position was the fault of the filmmakers, but the commercial exploitation of exploitation is due to the weakness and lack of unity in the production sector. Film producers have four bodies to represent them, but none is willing to speak out.

Now, if it’s any consolation, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) is looking closely at how the industry works. A few years ago, the ICC took note of events in the film industry. It seemed like another lip service that these ministries pay from time to time. The CCI said it is studying the cinema sector closely.

The ICC happens to have drawn conclusions which it made public last week. In a press release, the CCI notes that certain anomalies exist in the operation of the cinema exhibition trade. To this effect, he issued a kindly worded moderation which should be followed. It found that certain business practices were contrary to the spirit of competition, even monopolistic.

The CCI published a report, “India Film Distribution Chain Market Study”, and the report seems to have left nothing out about how film distribution and exhibition works.

The ICC believes that, unlike the current sharing of box office admissions between producer and exhibitor (where a producer/distributor’s share is reduced each week), the arrangement should be global, i.e. share the total income from the distribution of a film according to pre-established conditions.

This isn’t really a suggestion because the exponent that has the upper hand will work to their advantage on the overall split, which won’t be much different than it is now.

The other suggestion of the CCI is humbug. He says the multiplex should consider splitting the promotion costs with the producer! Consider? Rest assured, the multiplex is not supposed to do such a thing.

CCI advocates a non-modifiable box office monitoring system that generates, records and maintains ticketing logs, or simply, ticket sales. This data should be sacrosanct! He also wants producers to hire a panel of auditors to check the cash logs of multiplexes.

It’s really funny. Multiplexes collect and report what they collect. They have no advantage in reporting erroneous or inflated figures. The culprit, when this happens, is usually the producer (who today is often the star himself). They are the ones who give erroneous and inflated collection figures. As if that would make a flop or a mediocre movie a hit. It’s just an ego massage for the stars.

Some studies carried out by the CCI are sketchy. It sounds like sermons, like when it is said that associations, like in trades, should not engage in bans and boycotts and not prevent non-members from working in the industry! This goes against the very idea of ​​an association since its very purpose is to safeguard the interests of its members. And it is not served if non-members are employed by the producers.

The study further advises associations to create a mechanism to resolve disagreements etc. In case the ICC is unaware, filmmakers rarely, if ever, go to court. They always settle their differences on their own. And arbitration has been the way of the world long before the establishment of tribunals and commissions.

A valuable point raised by ICC is not worth taking as a mere suggestion. Not only must it be followed with immediate effect, but it can also be returned to the ICC if not implemented. These are the Virtual Print Fees (VPF) paid to the cinema by the filmmaker.

–By Vinod Mirani