The Maharashtra State Government in its Monsoon Session at Nagpur said that it is in favor of allowing food and drinks to be consumed inside the multiplexes. This has garnered mixed reactions from the citizens, who are questioning the practicality of the decision. The announcement on Friday the 13th could indeed mean a nightmare for cinema patrons.
Looking at other countries like the US, there is an outright ban on outside food in the cinema premises. Also, other venues like a live concert, sports stadiums, restaurants, etc. also do not allow outside food. The news has been blown out of proportion and the issue is given more attention than it actually deserves. The proposed kneejerk reaction to the issue by the Maharashtra Government has drawn the ire of artists and citizens alike; we have compiled a few quotes on the subject:
Poonam Dhillon says, "It will definitely create an issue with alcohol as security will have to do so much more work.
That was my first reaction as people may be carrying non-veg, so an issue of bones, smells of pickles, various other aromas may make the theatre atmosphere very uncomfortable.
People may get into fights with the objection of food items, smells, drunk misbehavior and most important - security could be compromised as won't be possible for security people at the theatre to go through every item in detail. Like the airport, one will have to come 1 to 2 hours before for security. It's not practical." Producer, Director, Actor & Writer Zeishan Quadri of Gangs of Wasseypur commenting on the development said; "One goes to a movie hall to watch a movie and not concentrate on eating." Actor Sonu Sood echoes the same sentiment and says "There has to be a check of what food has brought in. It's very important to set the norms as security reasons are concerned. Honestly, the odor which will come from the tiffins will spoil the ambiance." Actress Priya Banerjee, Actors J Brandon Hill, and Yuvraj Siddharth Singh echoed similar sentiments.
Singer Kailash Kher says " As far as security reasons are concerned it is going to be very challenging as if people will carry liquor inside the multiplex the situation will become out of control and many incidents can take place." Commenting on the development singer Anuradha Paudwal said, "It would be a horrible thing. After ages, we have got theatres like PVR and Inox and if this is going to happen then people will again stop visiting theatres. The ambiance will get disturbed because of this typical mentality. This is not a good idea." Singer Bhoomi Trivedi also reacted in the same manner "The question here is there are higher chances of an unwanted event taking places, do we have measures for those activities? Whose responsibility would it be if an unwanted event occurs due to food or liquor got from outside which creates discomfort? There is so much of unpredictability in the outside world. How much one would keep himself /herself protected from anti-social elements. Watching a movie has a reason behind people or families wanting to relax/ chill spend time instead of suspicious about anything they see or feel. The fewer things people carry from home the more they will be free & enjoy the movie." Sonu Nigam who has candidly lent his voice to many social issues said; "I absolutely feel that outside food should not be allowed in the cinema hall majorly because this will or could be detrimental to the existence of multiplexes point we have to understand that a lot of what the cinema hall owners rely on is the money that they make from food items and beverage. Depriving them thus of their business module is not fair to them and could lead to an existential crisis. Also, Indians have the habit of misusing their rights does one can expect cinema halls to become like railway stations in the future if outside food items are permitted in cinema halls. When one goes to watch a film in a cinema hall one goes with full knowledge of the conditions he has to abide by. Moreover nowhere in the world one is allowed to take outside Food inside cinema halls."
Telly actors were also not far behind when it came to voicing their opinions on the issue. Actor Karanvir Bohra who has acted in several movies said; "I didn't realize that actually is this the way of solving this issue? As a security measure, liquids should not be allowed as it can increase crimes." Actress Pooja Bisht said " I personally feel there should be a list of such items which causes the excessive uncomfortable odor to avoid discomfort to other people and should not be allowed. I would rather go to a restaurant if I really want to eat something of my choice." Veteran actor Sudesh Berry commented; "I feel the interval time should be more so that anybody who wants to eat drink and use the washroom can create a comfort level for people and they can come back again. But no eatables or drinks should be allowed inside at all." Shuhangi Atre of the famous soap Bhabhiji Ghar Pe Hain said "I am worried that theatre and multiplexes don't turn to be unhygienic as people will eat and throw the litter here and there. It would be very difficult to sit inside the theatre for hours." Actress Saumya Tandon said "The most important is that cinema prices will go up. I have looked at the cinema value chain as I had invested in a company in this region (1018mb), I would like to highlight the financial problem by allowing outside food. A screen costs 1.5 - 3 cr to build and to make the theatre business viable the cinema earns profit from ticket and food. Now if the cinema is not allowed to make money on food then to sustain the ticket prices will need to go up this ultimately will come out of consumers pocket and ultimately reduce the theatre-going people in India thus affecting the whole business of cinema." Actors Aditi Gupta, Ojaswini Arora, Khushank Arora, Raghav Juyal and Devoleena Bhattacharjee also expressed their worries at the step of allowing food inside cinema halls.
Actors of the regional cinema industry were also a concerned lot at this announcement by the Government. Harshali Zine, who apart from television has acted in several Marathi films said: "There could be chances of littering in theatre." Actor Milind Pathak commented; "There will be fear of crime happening." Actor Sumedh Gaikwad also said; "Some people will surely take bad advantage of this decision and carry liquor in soft drinks. This is gonna be another curse to the overall movie watching experience." Popular host & RJ Mantra said; "Just as food is not allowed inside theatre during live plays, as it not only distracts fellow audience members, it is also disrespectful towards performers. Food should not be allowed inside cinema halls. It is not a dining hall it is a cinema hall. People go there to appreciate art and to be entertained. Not to dine. You do have intervals to quench your thirst and nibble a bite. Do it then." Popular comics and stand up comedians also expressed their angst in a humorous manner. Suresh Menon said "I would hate to go to a theatre smelling of food. And yes who is going to control people getting mixed drinks, breath analyzers maybe?? What about chemical warfare after people consume rajma chawal, peanuts, and kandha bhajiya, it's going to be a smelly experience for sure." Balraj Syal and Atul Khatri also expressed similar thoughts. DJ Paroma who has been a DJ from a long time says; "I have been in the nightlife industry where I have witnessed that people under the influence of liquor could prove to be a bad experience for the viewer as well as the others who have come to have a good time. I have had such experiences too. A lot of unwanted situations can occur. Littering, odor, sticky food such as chewing gum being stuck on seats, all this will definitely lower my overall experience of watching a movie. The fun of munching on popcorn and nachos and cheese with a cold glass of coke bought from the cinema counters has its own charm." Chitralekha Patil -President of Raigad District Women Cell says; "I don't support this, as per security reasons this is very dangerous as many incidents can happen and this decision will only increase the crime rates. In terms of hygiene it's going to be very difficult as people don't care when they are in public places - the clean cinema hall might just become the dirty neighborhood park."
Actress & politician Hema Malini exclaimed; "You allow delight of food, you are opening gates of its excess which is but a disease and ill health. Hence you allow food, you promote side effects of odor and stench! They are complementary to each other! Obviously, these liberties to indulge in indisciplined food pleasures would prevail irrespective of the quality of film you have gone to experience! In fact, you experience titillation of taste at the expense of movie experience!" Shriya Saran adds "I don't understand what is the reason behind it but according to me, food should be not allowed inside a multiplex. It's not allowed anywhere I'm the world. If you feel hungry then eat your food and come to watch a movie, carrying food inside the multiplex will destroy the ambiance inside the theatre. Even it's not safe due to security reasons."
We believe that the question of food is allowed into cinema halls might look simple on the surface but actually is not as simple. A lot of other issues like safety, contracts, property rights, overall cinema experience, etc. will surface up once this decision sees the light of the day. The above responses by the people who are closely associated with the film industry might be an eye-opener for the policymakers.
1. Preventions, restrictions, and bans have always been counterproductive and there is never a foolproof mechanism. Allowing food also doesn't mean that people would be going for a picnic outing at a theatre. It's not about Mumbai or Maharashtra, but the country at large.
2. Hypothetical situations can suggest all these as a possibility, the same can be said about food hawked by the theatres- today in a multiplex you can buy all kind of food. It's not that they sell odor free, oil-free food that the same apprehensions can be valid.
3. Allowing outside food is merely an option and not to have a restricted monopolized system where you are compelled to buy food from inside the theatre complex at exorbitant rates. The solution is then to ban the sale of food inside theaters except for aerated drinks, juices, tea /coffee, water but at MRPs as a service rather than a profit-making business.