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Baba in Singapore

Call it Bollywood, Mollywood or pure escapist drama, but Hindi and Tamil movies are hot, hot, hot By Karl Ho.

WHEN a big Tamil movie comes to town, the crowds can get pretty wild. Take BaBa. The Tamil film starring South Indian megastar Rajini Kanth opened at Textile Centre's Plaza Theatre on Aug 15, India's National Day.

The turnout got so big that the cinema's management had to call for policemen from the nearby Rochor neighbourhood police post to help control the crowd crammed onto the fourth floor of the centre.

CURRY FLURRY: Queuing for tickets at Plaza Theatre in Jalan Sultan.
Mr G.T. Mani, 29, principal programming executive for MediaCorp's Vasantham Central, was there.

The mood, he says, was festive, though 'the crowds were getting out of control because the tickets were sold out'.

He adds: 'Shutters were pulled down, but people tried to force their way in. We had to get into the theatre through the side doors.'

Theatres are forced to jack up the prices of tickets, a risky move in an economic slowdown.

Tickets for the Tamil movie BaBa for instance, cost $15 in its first two weeks and dropped to $10 after that. The average price of a ticket for a mainstream movie is $7.50.

Because of this, Indian movie players insist that they are barely breaking even, relying on a handful of cinematic successes to keep them afloat for the rest of the year.

The only remedy is to bring in big hits as soon as possible and to enhance their marketing strategies with special discounts on VCDs and tickets.

They admit that this is not going to make much of a difference.

Then again, hope might still arrive in the form of diehard film stalwarts, who insist on watching their biggest stars and listening to the latest songs in the cinema.

Housewife Sivakolunthu Rajoo, 35, for instance, does not take her family to the cinema that often anymore.

Her family of five used to watch a movie at the cinema every weekend, but stopped doing this early this year because her three children have to study for important exams.

But when there is a film starring Rajini Kanth, the family will dress up in their best and head down to the theatre.

Says Ms Sivakolunthu, who watched BaBa with her family at Broadway on Sunday evening: 'People say my husband looks as handsome as Rajini.

'My 12-year-old boy will come back home and copy Rajini's mannerisms and speak his movie lines.'

She adds: 'He's generally a positive role model for the kids, although he does drink and smoke in the movie.

'I'll simply have to buy the BaBa VCD to watch the movie again.

Source :http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/life/story/0,1870,141310,00.html
Dated 4 September 2004 (The Straits Times)

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