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`Follow Bollywood, provide home entertainment'

By Karthik Subramanian

CHENNAI, OCT. 13. More than 220 shops at Burma Bazaar near Esplanade have temporarily shut down since the Tamil Nadu Government decided to book video pirates under the Goondas Act.

With the grey market showing a slump in sale of pirated DVDs and VCDs and with the constant threat of police raids on the shops, the film industry has been upbeat about a good opening for movies.

However, for dealers in DVD players and home entertainment systems, the scenario has become difficult with the dearth of moderately priced, licensed DVDs and VCDs of Tamil films. They feel that the time is ripe for Kollywood producers to take their cue from their Bollywood counterparts, making available VCDs/ DVDs of films within two or three months of release.

A representative of a top-selling DVD brand expects that the annual market in Chennai, its suburbs and nearby Tiruvallur and Chengalpattu districts will be around 90,000 units. "The cost of DVD players has come down by nearly 250 per cent over the last year alone." Basic DVD players are available in the Rs. 4,000-5,000 bracket.

Several DVD and VCD lending libraries have shut down over the past two weeks. One library at Mogappair turned into an ice cream parlour. Only a few, with valid licences and original discs, have survived.

`Preferred mode'

A representative of one of the popular surviving outlets said his library rented out on an average 6,500 titles, including Hindi films, a month. "There is a huge demand for DVDs because a lot of people are not able to go to theatres. For people working in private companies, weekends are the only free time and with just a few theatres offering good facilities, home theatre systems have become a preferred mode of film watching," she said.

It is not just the comfort factor but also pricing that makes people prefer DVDs and VCDs. "If you go out to watch a film with your family, you will need to set apart at least Rs. 400-500. But these days, Hindi film VCDs are available for a much lower price after the film has a run in theatres," says A. Ramanan, an IT professional.

Traders' plea

An association at Burma Bazaar has appealed to the State Government and the film producer's council to help traders get into the legitimate video business. The general secretary, K. A. Shahul Hameed, has appealed to the Tamil film producers to give the traders the right to sell films for a small percentage. They would be glad to pay the producers a royalty.

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