Replying to an RTI query, the Hyderabad City Police said that the patrons can carry their own food and eatables along with water bottles to multiplexes and other theatres. The multiplexes cannot restrict the audience from carrying their food. Hyderabad based anti-corruption activist Vijay Gopal filed a query for which Hyderabad City Police responded.
They even said there are no curbs by law and the patrons can file a complaint with the Legal Metrology Department if the movie-goers are restricted from taking their food. Under the Cinema Regulation Act of 1955, there are no restrictions for patrons about food. “This rule has been there for many years but the theatre lobby almost banished it. Hence, such rules are good only on paper since the greedy exhibitors in the two Telugu states, will not allow patrons to carry food items in near future,” says distributor Venkateswar Rao, who says that four to five lessees are making more than 100 to 300% profits on foods and beverages.
“Lessees are making huge profits between 100 to 300% on eatables and earning more than ticket collections and at some places on parking as well. Lessees enhanced theatre rentals six to seven times over the years and forced the viewers to buy foodstuff from their canteens by disallowing eatables from outside. Until the two-state governments issue stern orders and unleash officials to rein in the looting lobby, it will be difficult rule to come into force,” he adds.
Another distributor Vamsi Kishore claims that lessees are making lives of viewers miserable because they seldom follow rules. “They fleece fans of superstars, poor masses, rickhawallahs, daily wage-earners and students in the first three days by hiking the ticket rates including selling tickets in black market,” laments Vamsi KishoreThe money looted is going into pockets of few rich lessees and as remuneration for superstars and top-league technicians, by emptying the pockets of gullible movie buffs,” rues Venkateswar Rao. Another distributor Srinivas from Nizam adds, “Already, the lessees have made tons of money in canteen sales by selling snacks and drinks at exorbitant rates, due to lack of proper checks. Families and ladies are shying from theatres due to overpriced food, reducing the footfalls at theatres across two Telugu states.
With GST regime yet to get into shape and lacking vigilance teams, lessees are fudging figures and paying less tax to the government. One side they are fleecing viewers and on the other taking government institutions for a ride,” he alleges. Despite assurance by government agencies, the viewers are not going to get any relief in near future. “Only frequent raids by the government officials can curtail the greed of lesseess. Even the recent GST order which reduced 28% to 18% for a ticket above Rs 100 and 18% to 12% for ticket below Rs 100, but it is not being properly implemented in many theatres, so suffering of gullible viewers goes unabated,” concludes Bharat Bhushan.