[Assam] Satellite-enabled digital sharing brings Assam halls back from the dead

Pradip Kumar Datta pradip200 at yahoo.com
Sun May 13 21:48:51 PDT 2007

        Exit, celluloid prints from cinemas
- Satellite-enabled digital sharing brings Assam halls back from the dead     OUR BUREAU                  A technician at work in Anuradha Cinema. Picture by Eastern Projections   May 13: From Guwahati to Golaghat, the plot is changing for the piracy-stung film exhibition business. 
  Forced into near-oblivion by video pirates, big-screen cinema is set to make a comeback in Assam with exhibitors revamping halls, employing the latest technology and entering into alliances with mainstream distribution houses to woo back the audience.
  Nitin Bihani is one of the businessmen behind the resurgence of cinema, as we know it, in these parts. 
  The owner of two cinema halls in the sleepy town of Golaghat, Bihani is working out a deal with Mumbai-based United Film Organizers to screen films on the very day they are released instead of several weeks or months later.
  “Henceforth, any film released in Mumbai will be screened in one of my theatres the same week. Digitised audio-video data will be sent to us through satellite, and I guarantee that the quality of the picture and the sound will be better than it was earlier,” he told The Telegraph. 
  Bihani’s Chitralekha Theatre took the first step when Big Brother, featuring Sunny Deol, was screened on Friday. 
  In Guwahati, which got its first multiplex last week, vintage Anuradha Cinema has already bid adieu to celluloid prints and embraced digital projection. Films are uploaded in Mumbai and directly downloaded to a server installed at the theatre. A digital projection system does the rest. 
  This simple, satellite-enabled technology is a lifeline for cinema exhibitors in a state where over 70 per cent of the halls have long downed shutters.
  Bihani said his company’s tie-up with United Film Organizers, if successful, could inspire many halls to reopen. “I had closed down one of my theatres in Golaghat town, but I realised that big-screen cinema would always remain the first choice of the audience if we moved with the times.”
  The enterprising businessman is convinced that any hall can become commercially viable by adopting digital projection technology. “In any case, isn’t it about time all of us realise that no home theatre system can give the experience of watching a film in a hall?” he asked.
  Chinmoy Sharma, the owner of Anuradha Cinema, echoed Bihani. “Satellite and digital technology save both time and money. We no longer have to bank on physical transhipment of celluloid prints from Mumbai to Assam. There is also the durability factor. After two to three weeks of screening, celluloid prints develop scratches. But with digital technology, the audience will get a uniform, high-quality cinema experience,” he said.

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