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Where scalpers fear to tread

By Mahesh Vijapurkar

MUMBAI, DEC. 4. Beating the scalpers at the cinema theatre, especially when blockbusters are screened is an uphill task. It is often — ask any law-enforcer — doomed to fail. But the owner of six theatres in Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh has been trying to find ways to contain black marketing.

The first device employed was quite inventive: no tickets were issued at the box office but people asked to just get in and occupy seats. Thereafter, like a conductor in a bus, those seated were issued tickets and the money collected. No one had complaints. The black marketing went down.

New software

However, H. Gopal Reddy, Managing Partner of Anand Cineplex — a set of six theatres, seating upwards of 2,400 people at six simultaneous shows — wanted to do something better. His son, Shiva, who joined him in the business, came up with a computer-based system which can even catch images of the buyers.

"If we find the same person buying the ticket day after day we know he is either a cinema-buff or a black-marketeer," says Shiva, who put together the software and is now trying to market it.

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