Bollywood divided over prime time screening of Marathi films

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In a move that is guaranteed to cause some degree of controversy, the Maharashtra government has made it mandatory for multiplexes in Mumbai to screen at least one Marathi film in the prime time slot. The city’s film industry, best known for making Hindi films, is divided over this move. BJP, on the other hand, believes this will encourage local culture and hopes other states will follow their lead.

Talking to Times Now, BJP National secretary, Sidharth Nath Singh said, “The decision was passed during the Congress rule. There is nothing wrong in it. Local and regional culture should be promoted. It should be done in every state.”

Actress Deepti Naval, filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt as well as columnist Shobhaa De begged to differ with Singh. Bhatt said, “The government is infringing into the creative space.” He also described this move as dictatorial, particularly since the official directive specifies the ‘prime time’ must be given to Marathi films. Bhatt said he wishes Marathi film industry would flourish, but this move of government will kill the Hindi film industry.

Actress Deepti Naval said, “I like the fact that they are trying to promote Marathi cinema, but it seems of a more dictatorial and desperate move. It isn’t a comfortable thought.” She added that it would have been better if the government, instead of reserving the prime time slot for only Marathi films, had decided to keep that time for any regional cinema.

Columnist Shobhaa De said, “This type of dictatorial policy needs to challenged. This type of regionalism creeping into entertainment is not a good news.” She further added that while at present it is just multiplexes where Marathi films will have reserved slots, “in future it can be any commodity and the state government might say that ‘only Marathi commodity will be used’.”

Director Hansal Mehta was among those who slammed the government’s decision. Mehta told Times Now, “Films should be shown on basis of quality. Films transcend language and regionalism. I don’t understand the rationale behind this move. Many independent cinema which doesn’t get a fair chance at the multiplexes also deserve to be promoted.”

However, despite the obvious backlash from several members of the film fraternity, some filmmakers and actors not just supported but also welcomed this decision of the government.

When director Sudhir Mishra was asked whether government’s decision to screen Marathi films during prime time was a good decision or not, he replied, “Why not? It isn’t like there aren’t any other films in the 6-9 slot. It also gives audiences more choice.” Mishra pointed out that the move will help Marathi cinema a great deal.

Echoing Mishra’s thoughts, actor Riteish Deshmukh, who was the producer of hit Marathi film, Lai Bhari tweeted out:

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