The Financial Express

Fund for cinema halls

Fund for cinema halls

The creation of a refinancing fund worth Tk10 billion for cinema halls may prompt many to jump to the conclusion that better days are ahead for the film industry. Normally it should have been the case. The refinancing fund has been created by the Bangladesh Bank under the instruction of higher authorities clearly with an objective in sight. Those intending to construct new cinema halls or refurbish the existing ones with the latest facilities and amenities may avail of the credit up to Tk 50 million at 5.0 and 4.50 per cent interests depending on the location at divisional level and in other places respectively. The opportunity looks quite lucrative. This generous support package would have been most welcome but for the moribund state of the cinema industry. Movie houses or cinema halls -- no matter how luxurious, comfortable and technologically advanced those are -- cannot draw audience or spectators; it is the quality of films that attract movie-goers to cinema halls.

For years cinema halls have been incurring losses and thus such facilities, one after another, in cities and towns have been dismantled to construct commercial complexes. This has hardly anything to do with their facilities. Even the cineplexes with multiple auditoriums of limited capacities for each but of large capacities together were finding it tough to stay in business. The coronavirus has only made the matter worse -- so worse that it is well-nigh impossible for a business turnaround. When veteran owners of cinema halls failed to continue to operate cinema halls, will there be many fresh entrepreneurs in this business? Realistically there is little chance of succeeding in running cinema halls when the industry fails to produce quality films. Even films made in collaboration between directors, producers and artistes of Bangladesh and West Bengal have rarely proved a commercial success.

Admittedly, the majority of Bangla cinemas now produced have exposed their weakness in storyline, plot, presentation, objectivity and entertainment value. The alternative cinema is doing comparatively better but most films of this genre are for the above average cinema lovers. But this selected audience can in no way help investors in cinema get their money back and also make profit. Unless the wider segments of spectators mill into cinema halls, box-office business is beyond the reach. Confronted with such a crisis, Bollywood has successfully explored audience psychology and focussed on producing off-beat films based on diversified subjects. Poverty of imagination and lack of creativity cannot take a film far enough; even the latest production technology is a poor substitute.

Before making arrangement for a huge outlay for cinema halls, it would be better to develop the country's film industry. If theatres are of high standard, there is no reason why the quality of cinema would be absurdly poor. Instead of talented and creative film-makers, below average people with money and influences are ruling the roost in the film industry. Let the capable hands run the affairs in the industry. There should be a full-fledged film institute where talented and creative film-makers would be produced and nurtured. As long as this does not happen, the allocation of money for cinema halls can in part be diverted to construction of art and cultural (Shilpakala) academies at the upazila level.             

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