Bollywood made a long-awaited return to the UAE this week with the premiere of Kal Kissne Dekha, a love story, on Thursday. Cinemas have had to screen old Bollywood films, and movies made in Hollywood and Britain, during the nine-week hiatus caused by a stand-off over revenue sharing between Hindi film producers in India and multiplex cinema chains.
In the National Cinema, Abu Dhabi's main Bollywood venue, which shows only Indian releases, ticket sales were up on the opening night of Kal Kissne Dekha. The manager on the night said he expected many more customers in the coming weeks. "For three months there have been no new releases and now it is just starting up again," he said. "There have been more visitors today than the last couple of movies. In the next few weekends it should get even busier once the word gets around and New York and Paying Guest, more new films, release."
He said that business had suffered because cinemagoers got out of the habit: "If you come every weekend, you will come automatically for the next weekend. But if you don't see a new film for a month being released, you won't go back." Sales were likely to go up in the next few weeks but the mass exodus of people leaving for holidays during the hot summer months would also have an impact on audiences.
Abdur Rehman, a 25-year-old mechanical engineer from Abu Dhabi, said he had missed his regular visits to the cinema. "The weekend is the only time to relax after a week at work," he said. "The next film I am going to see will be New York. I have been coming every week to check if a new film will show but there have just been old movies." He was not planning to see Kal Kissne Dekha, however. "I don't know who these actors are, so I won't be watching this one."
Neha Lala, a 23-year-old architect from the city, said: "We usually come every weekend when a new movie screens. Instead we have been watching English movies." She added that the next film on which she would spend Dh30 would be New York. Her 18-year-old brother Raunaq, a recent graduate, said he had been lost without his regular dose of Indian film. "Hindi films are so much better, the excitement, the environment is great, there is a great atmosphere in the cinema, especially with a comedy. I can't wait for New York," he said.
"I won't watch Kal Kissne Dekha because the concept of seeing into the future has been done before." In Dubai, there was a festive air at theatres such as the Lamcy Cinemas and Grand Cineplex as Indians arrived with children and friends to see Kal Kissne Dekha. Karima Ali, 33, had come with her entire family. "It has been long since we watched any new movie because of the dispute back home. We felt we had to see this film despite the fact that we know little about the lead actors. It does not seem like a house-full show but I am sure it will pick up."
Suresh Negi, who came along with his wife, said: "We don't know much about the film. But we are glad the issue has been resolved." email@example.com