The Dark Underbelly of Adult Movies Keeps Single Screens Alive in Kolkata
Unlike mainstream movies like ‘Kabir Singh’ – the market for adult movies is lesser known. Here's how this market operates.
A collage of posters of adult films.
Lallan Singh (41) is a daily wage labourer in Kolkata’s famous Burrabazar. He takes pride in flaunting his ‘Abdulla Brand’ checkered blue ‘lungi’ while ferrying bags of cereals in a godown at Raja Katra.
As clock ticks half past twelve in the afternoon, he quickly slips in to Ram Dhani’s ‘Faltu Chai Ki Dukan’ (quite famous for tea) at Strand Road and after having his frugal lunch – he is again back in action to earn another meal fr the day.
After a tiring day in scorching sun, he never forgets to keep himself cool with ‘Bangla’ (a local alcoholic beverage) with black salt and chilli flakes.
For Lallan - who hails from Bihar’s Narkatiaganj in West Champaran district and stays alone in Kolkata - no Friday goes without ‘blockbuster’ show, and last week it was ‘Jab Raat Hoti Hai’ (When Night Falls).
“Bahut achha cinema tha babu…scene (steamy content), action saab accha tha…thoda time pass ho jata hai (It was a good movie. Scene and action was also good…it is a time pass),” he said hesitantly while adding his recent favorite was ‘Biwi Jawan, Mard Pareshan’ (Husband is Worried as Wife is Young).
“Two more movies (adult) will be releasing soon including ‘Shola - Fire of Love’ and ‘Maut Phir Aayegi’. Poster feedback is good. Will try to make it,” he added while struggling to remove something from his mouth with a toothpick.
Lallan and thousands like him are keeping the adult movie market alive and giving a breathing space to the struggling single screens.
Unlike mainstream movies like ‘Kabir Singh’ – the market for adult movies is lesser known. Distributor Jhuma Paul, owner of Equinox Film City in Kolkata, said, “We deal with all kind of movies including adult movies. In this world of digital media where the content is easily available, there is still a market for adult movies. The module of doing business with adult movies is bit different from the mainstream movies. Here the profitability is less as compare to big budget movies because of low production costs.”
She further elaborated, “The production cost is around Rs 25 to Rs 35 lakh for such adult movies. Most of the production happens in Mumbai and in Chennai. We sign royalty for one to three years (maximum). The royalty amount is negotiable and it goes up to 2 lakh starting from Rs 35,000. The royalty depends on the content. If you are having a royalty deal for one year for Rs 35,000 to Rs 2 lakhs (for three years) – it’s up to how you are making profit by selecting screens considering the crowd in the area. This year we did good business with films like ‘Jaab Raat Hoti Hai’, ‘Madmast Barkha’, ‘Bhayanak Aatma’, ‘Maheruh.’”
She also explained the demography for such films. Paul said, “Most of the audiences are daily wage labourers who are staying alone. Mainly the weaker section of society. In some areas, we have noticed couples going to watch such movies. The ticket prices vary from Rs 30 to Rs 100 depending on the facilities available. The response is higher in rural areas as compare to cities.”
Subhendu Biswas of Saraswati Films, said, “Unlike mainstream movie which releases every Friday and the profitability started showing in few weeks, here (for adult movies) you have to count the profitability from the time of royalty that you have taken till its end (from one year to three years). The advantage of doing business with adult movies is that you can repeat it again and again as per demand from the single screen owners. I think the shelf life is higher as compared to mainstream movies because of the steamy scenes.”
He added, “There are many which did good business in last three to four years. ‘Munni Matric Pass’ is a super hit in Bengal and in Assam. It is still running. It did a business of Rs 8-10 lakhs in Assam and Bengal. It made more than Rs 2 crore in entire India. Another movie ‘MMS Kand’ also did a good business. The response was so good that ‘MMS Kand’ was successfully shown in more than 200 single screens across Bengal and Assam.”
However, KK Gupta of JM Films in Kolkata, believes that the adult movie market has shrunken lately. “The market has decreased. Still in last three years, movies like ‘Miss Teacher’, ‘Perfect Guest’ and ‘Unchhui - Pyar Ek Nasha Aur Nasha Janleva’ (Untouched – Love is Addiction and Addiction is Deadly) have done well.”
Tapas Chaudhuri, Deputy Secretary, Eastern India Motion Picture Association (EIMPA), said, “There are many who are economically weak and not comfortable with mobile phones. Even if they are comfortable with mobile phones, watching movie in a big screen is more relaxing for them. Kolkata has various ways of entertainment for various classes. Earlier, the same steamy scenes used to be there in the drams of early ‘90s. Later it was banned by the government. I think such adult movies are saviour of several small screens across the country.”
Arijit Dutta, the managing director of Priya Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, said, “There are small screen exhibitors who are running these shows as they don’t have much options. They are surviving on this in today’s world of multiplexes.”
It seems this adult movie market can self-sustain itself for some more time.
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