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Moser Baer Is Everywhere

Last fortnight, I was in Landmark,Chennai, looking for the dvd prints of Ritwick Ghatak’s films in the section they were around for a couple of months. I could only find moser baer dvds in Tamil in the place of Ghatak’s films and youngsters shuffling through the yellow plastic covers of moser baer eagerly. I had to spend some time locating the Ghatak collection, which got shunted to an obscure place.

At Rs.34 per dvd and Rs.28 per vcd, the moser baer is a great attraction in book stores, grocery stores and even platform stalls. Reports speak of moser baer’s burgeoning collection of titles in many Indian languages. The dominant pitch of  the mainstream Indian media when moser baer entered the home video market was that it was an anti-piracy drive, even though the company saw it as a big opportunity to get a decent pie of the Rs.8000 crore film market. I can not see the villain of pirates in the yellow plastic covers of moser baer. I see only the looming death of the re-release market for films of yesteryear stars and superstars. Barring a collection of MGR’s films and probably a couple of Sivaji Ganesan’s films, the re-release market will vanish sooner than moser baer’s next move to price their dvds lower than the price of drumstick with which they share the shelves on Chennai’s  grocery stores.

3 comments

1 utpal borpujari { 08.14.07 at 7:01 pm }

It is an interesting assessment of the situation. However, what is happening is also a reflection of how cheaper technology is driving the business growth of entertainment industry these days. Like you said, it could prove to be the death of re-release industry, but then anyway films are shown repeatedly on the TV channels soon after their release these days – so is there really a re-release market now?

2 Ravi { 08.15.07 at 8:41 am }

Thanks Utpal for your observation, which I think provides me an opportunity to share a few more observations on the re-release market.

The re-release market, at least in Tamil Nadu, is still going steady in the rural hinterlands where it makes sense for theatres to pull in crowds with blockbusters of yesteryears when they do not have new films to show. The movie channels, the ceaseless rehash of film content in other Tamil channels, I think, have not greatly impacted this market. Because some old blockbusters’ television and video rights have not been sold as they are seen as perpetual cash cows by those who have the rights. A case in point is a group of MGR films made in 60s (Nadodi Mannan, Ayirathil Oruvan etc.,). The former ran for 50 days during its re-release last year in Chennai alone. The later was running to packed houses, along side Rajini’s Sivaji, in July 2007 in 12 theatres in Chennai. Rajini’s Sivaji was running in 19 theatres during the same period on its maiden run. How long will this last depends on not just on Moser Baer’s attempts to make inroads, but also other factors such as the role of fan clubs and the competitive edge of old block busters in the present times.

3 Kishore Budha { 08.23.07 at 11:56 pm }

We should also examine the relationship between the sociology of fan clubs — and the relationship they share with political parties. While Moser Baer wants to capitalise on the atomisation of society (role of technology and individual agency) political parties would want to pump oxygen into fan clubs to keep them alive so that they can exploit the myths sustained by social activities. Fan clubs too have an interesting role to play in the tussle between an evolving culture of private spaces of pleasure and the politics and sociology of communal viewing.

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