Talk(ies) of the town
Posted On Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 08:07:44 AM
In a unique method of promotion, makers of the Marathi film Touring Talkies held the premiere of their film in an actual tent near Manoranjan Nagari, below the Z Bridge.
Attended by actors like Subodh Bhave, Milind Shinde and Chinmay Sant along with cameraman Amol Gole, the producers were gratified to see citizens queuing up to buy tickets that were being sold for Rs 100. Except for two rows, all the 500-plus seats were sold out
Feeling the magic of movies in a tent
A huge tent pitched on the banks of the Mutha river offers urban viewers the movie-going experience far removed from their multiplexes. The roaming cinema or tent talkies is one of the oldest traditions of Indian cinema where films are shown for a rural audience inside each tent that can seat 500 to 1,000 viewers.
For the past few decades, films shown in tents have become a tradition in the jatra (religious fairs) and are a huge source of entertainment for pilgrims. However, the tradition is dying. Today, only 33 touring talkies in the state from the 2,000 in 1985, are in the business. Of these, six are in western Maharashtra, while the rest are in Vidarbha and Marathwada. The glorious tradition of tent talkies, which has kept together generations of film-goers in rural areas for decades, has been brought to the cities by a group of film makers. 'Touring Talkies', a film by Trupti Bhoir, based on the experience, has brought the rural flavour of film viewing to Pune.
Until 2010, the owners of touring talkies made good business, with an income of Rs 3 to 4 lakh per season. But times are difficult today. Anup Jagdale, a second generation owner of 'Anup talkies' from Karad said, "We work for six months staring from October-end and conclude the season in May. We pay entertainment tax and are charged electricity at commercial rates. We pay high rentals for the space where we pitch our tents during a jatra. If this tradition has to sustain, the government must give us concessions." Moreover, cable television, quick release of films on DVDs and private channels buying satellite rights from filmmakers have reduced footfalls in the tents.
Hoping for the best
Now, discover Touring Talkies at a maidan near you
Bapgonda Ghumat, owner of Krushna-Koyna touring talkies from Satara, said, "We run four shows every day and charge Rs 20 per seat. Our business runs for only six months and we have to make do with whatever we have for the remaining part of the year. The real cinema culture lies here and the government must help us to save it." Other owners of touring talkies want the state government to exemption them from entertainment tax and provide electricity at subsidised rates and an annual subsidy like tamasha artistes get from the government.
If you want to experience cinema in its pre-multiplex and pre-single screen glory dating back 50 years, head to Central Mumbai’s Jamboree Maidan, Worli on April 18. To mark 100 years of Indian Cinema, a Marathi film Touring Talkies will be screened in a makeshift tent theatre just like the days of yore.
The tents, keeping in mind modern audiences, will have plush seating, air conditioning and popcorn for sale. The cinema will screen four shows per day for a week.
The film will be screened in a similar way in Goa and Pune.
The idea of touring talkies was born when Dadasaheb Phalke witnessed the British watching movies in tents. After Phalke made India’s first film, Raja Harishchandra, he decided to show it in tent theatres and the concept caught on across India.
The touring cinema would travel through rural India and screen movies in makeshifts tents. The movie would be projected on to one of the sides of the tents and people would sit on the floors and enjoy the movies.
Touring talkies is a dying vocation, now their numbers have come down to 33 from 2,000 in 1985. At present, one can only find these talkies during Jatras (village fairs) in the interiors of the state.
Trupti Bhoir, producer of Touring Talkies, insists that this is a commercial film with leading Marathi actors essaying the roles. “I have researched about these talkies for the last three and half years. While working on the film’s script, we’ve visited a lot of touring talkies across the state and witnessed their struggle to make it a profitable business,” she adds.
The film ‘Touring Talkies’ will set out to unfurl the legendary history of films which were shown in mobile talkies when cinema was born in our country. Bhoir added,“The film is about a young girl called Chandi who struggles to keep her touring talkies afloat.The film sets out to focus on the pitfalls of the profession.”
The film boasts of the stellar star cast of Suhas Palshikar, Subodh Bhave, Milind Shinde, Kishore Kadsam, Neha Pendse, Vaibhav Mangle and child artist Chinmay Sant besides Trupti Bhoir who has renders a sterling performance in the film.Bhoir adds that the film deals with a novel concept and has a judicious blend of various human emotions like love, anger, jealousy, arrogance, greed etc.
Another hallmark of the film is that the music and the background score has been composed by renowned music director Ilayaraja. Apart from being screened in tent theatres, Touring Talkies will also be in regular movie screens. It will also be showcased at the Holland and Los Angeles film festivals.
Touring talkies owners in rural Maharashtra demand right to live
Mhaswad | Wednesday, Dec 12 2007 IST
Marathi classics like V Shantaram''s ''Pinjara'' and several of late Dada Kondke''s movies owe their success in the rural hinterland of the state to the touring talkies.
The touring talkies owners or the ''tambu malak'' (tent owners) have been important exhibitors of films, especially Marathi cinema, during ''Yatras'' in rural Maharashtra.
The yatras or ''mela'', where devotees converge to offer prayers to the local presiding deity, are held in a span of four months between November and May. There are 320 yatras all over the state. The season of yatras begin with the Siddhnath yatra in Mhaswad, situated in Satara district, and ends at Shingnapur in Ahmednagar district in May.
Out of the 320 yatras all over the state, 12 are in the Satara district. In an effort to give a voice to their grievances, eight touring talkies owners have come together under the platform of ''Satara district tourism cinema owners association'' under the leadership of filmmaker Neeta Deokar, who is also an advocate.
Speaking to a group of visiting journalists, Ms Deokar said the association has been formed with a view to revive the dying profession and ensure that the touring talkies owners get decent means of conducting their business and livelihood.
Ms Deokar, who firmly believes that the touring talkies have been instrumental in taking Marathi cinema to the remote areas of the state, said as a producer of Marathi movies -- ''Hirva Kunkoo'' and ''Shamboo Mazha Navsacha'', she had been duped by middlemen. ''''I wanted to ensure that there is a direct contact between touring talkies owners and producers,'''' she added.
She said the association has demanded from each producer Rs six lakh in all the 12 yatras across the Satara district as rent. Out of which, Rs two lakh will be in advance for first three ''yatras'' which will have four shows every day. The producer will take the profits of the ticket sales. Earlier, she said, the arrangement between the producers and talkies owners was on percentage basis. There are several instances, where the touring talkies owners suffered severe losses if the film did not do well.
She has also sought pension and insurance schemes for the persons involved in this trade.
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