Reported By: Salil Tiwari
Last Updated: October 19, 2023, 01:50 IST
The Madras High Court on Tuesday advised the State of Tamil Nadu to contemplate the possibility of commencing screenings of the upcoming motion picture ‘Leo,’ featuring renowned actor Vijay, at 7am, instead of the existing 9am start time.
The single-judge bench of Justice Anita Sumanth passed the order in a petition filed by K Ramachandran, the film’s producer, seeking permission for two specific alterations in the screening schedule.
Firstly, he sought permission for a special show commencing at 7am on the film’s release date, and secondly, he wished to arrange for an additional special show, scheduled for 4am on the same day.
The producer contended that according to the provisions outlined in 14-A of Form C of the Tamil Nadu Cinemas (Regulation) Rules of 1957, theatres were restricted from conducting more than four screenings of the same film in a single day and as per government orders issued by the home department in August 1973, the permissible screening hours can be between 9am and 1.30am on the subsequent day.
The producer sought relaxation from these regulations, seeking approval for six screenings on the release day, which is the 19th of October, and five screenings from the 20th to the 24th of October. The state authorities had only granted permission for five screenings on all the specified dates until the 24th of October.
The contention raised by the producer was that adhering to the state-prescribed timeframes would render it infeasible to accommodate the film’s duration, which runs for 2 hours and 45 minutes, within the total duration of five screenings, including factors such as audience ingress and egress, intervals, and other relevant considerations, resulting in a cumulative time of 18 hours and 45 minutes.
On the other hand, the state public prosecutor informed the court that although permission for one special show had indeed been granted in addition to the four regular screenings under the authority granted by section 11 of the Tamil Nadu Cinemas Regulation Act of 1955, the authorities had been unaware of the film’s running time when the permission was granted.
The court, nevertheless, declined to accept this defence, asserting that it was incumbent upon the state to diligently ascertain all relevant details of the film before authorising its exhibition.
“The defence put forth is that the authority was unaware of the duration of the film, which, in my view, ought to have been ascertained prior to accepting the request for exemption,” said the judge.
Nevertheless, as the government order itself had not been contested in the legal proceedings, the court stated that it was not within its purview to mandate the screening of special shows. However, the court did instruct the state to reconsider its decision and evaluate the feasibility of initiating screenings at 7am.
Furthermore, the court, on its own motion, included the Tamil Nadu Theatre and Multiplex Owners Association as a party to the proceedings and directed it to ensure strict adherence to the prescribed protocols and take measures to prevent any potential issues related to law and order.
As per reports, after reconsideration, the state government, has decided to stick to its earlier stand of allowing five shows of the film only from 9 am between October 19 and 24.