Karan Johar's Innovative Films: Audience Rejection - Ram Jaiswal

The kind of cutting-edge thinking that Karan Johar presents in his films is being completely rejected by the common audience. - Ram Jaiswal, Jugul Palace, Kanpur

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Karan Johar's Innovative Films Audience Rejection - Ram Jaiswal

Karan Johar's Innovative Films Face Common Audience Rejection - Ram Jaiswal

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Cinema has had its golden age. There was a time when people used to open single theatres/cinemas with great enthusiasm thinking that it would be a good source of income for them. In a similar period, Late Jugul Kishore Jaiswal, a resident of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, started 'Saraswati Talkies' in 1971 in the Shuklaganj area of Unnao district adjacent to Kanpur, which is considered the Katri area. After that, ‘Jugul Palace’ was started in Kanpur in 2001. At present his sons are handling this business. We had a long conversation about cinema with Ram Jaiswal at 'Jugul Palace' in Kanpur city, which went like this...

What have been the conditions of cinema in Kanpur city? When did you guys get into this business?

-My entire childhood was spent watching films. Our father Late Jugul Kishar Jaiswal ji started the first cinema house “Saraswati Talkies” in the Shuklaganj area of Unnao in 1971. I was also born in 1971, so I am saying that my childhood was spent watching films. He struggled a lot for 'Saraswati Talkies'. He used to tell us that Shuklaganj i.e. Gangaghat used to be the area of Katri, and people used to be very scared. Many people used to say that Jaiswal ji has lost his mind that is why he has opened a cinema hall in the Katri area. But my father stood firm. My father used to tell me that his passion for opening a cinema was driven by something other than making money. When he was studying, he went to Vivek Cinema to watch a movie. He did not get the ticket. The gatekeeper had sent him away saying that there was no ticket, run away from here. This thing had touched his heart. He told the gatekeeper, 'How are you talking in this manner?' There should be no talk of running away. One day I will build a cinema hall myself. And this is the reason why he created 'Saraswati Talkies' in 1971. Since his time we have been witnessing a lot of ups and downs. Earlier the entertainment tax used to be 150 percent. Our association fought and got it reduced. Late Shri Suraj Narayan, our senior member from Kanpur, has been a mentor to all of us. There were many cinemas in Kanpur including his Navrang and there are even today. He struggled and brought his 150 percent to 125 and 100. Then there was compounding tax. After the arrival of VCR, it gradually started decreasing. Then the world of TV also harmed us. The serials ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ also gave us a lot of shock. But after some time, theaters have been recovering. There never came a time when cinema halls had to be closed. These are all old things.

Jugul Palace Cinema - Movie theater - Kanpur - Uttar Pradesh | Yappe.in

Where we are sitting today is 'Jugul Palace'. This cinema hall was also started by our father in 2001. At that time, it was a declining phase for cinema halls and the new concept of 'multiplex' had emerged. At that time many people had advised my father to build a multiplex instead of a single cinema. But he started 'Jugul Palace' single theater by releasing the film '6 Maa Tujhe Salaam'. Housefull board was put up in our theater for several weeks and our cinema was also a topic of discussion for a long time. But in the last five-six years, many theaters have been closed. Now this is the only cinema hall left in the entire ten-kilometer radius. So the situation is becoming quite serious. Good films are not being made. After Covid, people have also got OTT. Good movies started streaming on OTT. Whereas inferior films started being screened in our cinema halls. Some vulgar content has started coming. This type of content is being liked a lot on OTT. 'Animal' came here, which was liked by one section and not liked by another section. In between, the Hindi film industry kept on saying that what we have, no one else has. For example, S Rajamouli's film 'Baahubali'. So the series of ups and downs continues.

How many single theaters were there in Unnao and Kanpur earlier, how many of them have been closed now?

-Earlier there were five cinema halls in Unnao, out of which only our 'Saraswati Talkies' and Sundar Talkies are running. Whereas there were 45 in Kanpur, out of which only 12 are left. All others closed for various reasons. The biggest reason was that the property was not getting any returns in the prime location where it was. The demands of the distributor are still dictatorial. Distributors maintain a soft corner with multiplex owners and give them films on percentage. Whereas we ask for a minimum guarantee from single theater owners. This amount is in lakhs, which is not possible for a single theater to pay. That's why we don't get many films. Every film is facing losses. When a film is released on percentage, whatever collection is made is divided in half. In such a situation, the possibility of loss is less. Due to this also many cinema owners closed their single theatres.

With which film did 'Saraswati Talkies' start? Then which films made money?

-It is not possible for me to tell which film I watched first. I can only tell you about what happened after the 10th class, that is, from the time I regained consciousness. At the time of 'Khalnayak', 'Marte Dum Tak', 'Karan Arjun', Bhojpuri film 'Sasura Bada Paisa Wala', there was even a situation of lathi charge. ‘Sasura Bada Paisa Wala’ ran for twenty-five weeks continuously in ‘Saraswati Talkies’. If the film is good then the public watches it otherwise it rejects it. A film was released in 1975 – ‘Jai Santoshi Maa’. At our place, 'Saraswati' was engaged in talkies, father had told us that the women had decorated aarti thali from home, carrying flower garlands, earlier they used to do puta and aarti at the threshold of the talkies as if they were entering the temple, then After that, the movie started. This was the period when shows were run even at night after getting permission from the administration. Meaning, the shows were run from noon in the night to 3 a.m. and from 3 o'clock in the night to 6 in the morning. It reminds us again and again that cinema also had its golden age.

Which was the first film shown in 'Jugul Palace'?

-Govinda's first film 'Deewanapan' was shown here in 'Jugul Palace'. After a lot of struggle, the distributor gave us this film in the third week.’

What kind of publicity tactics have you guys been adopting?

-The easiest way of promotion is the poster of the film. In the beginning, posters were put up around the rickshaw, and publicity was done using mike. This sequence continued for many years. We used to demand from the distributor to give more posters. So that it gets publicized in far-flung localities as to which movie is going on. We also used to get banners installed. Now everything is online. I know that not every common viewer can use online. That's why even today we have to fight with the distributor for up to ten posters. When we started ‘Jugul Palace’, we used to demand two hundred posters for every new film. The maximum number of posters available was 175. But today we are given hardly forty posters.

Audiences would come to you and tell you what kind of movies they want to watch.

-We would like to tell the film producers and directors that they are causing harm to the cinema world by stopping making family and message-oriented films. Family cinema has been suppressed. Whereas even today the common viewer wants to watch a clean, without any hesitation, family film in the theater with his family and children. There is a small section of society that likes to watch films containing sex and violence. But Silver Jubilee or Golden Jubilee i.e. films that ran for 25, 50, or 75 weeks were family films, which are now missing. For example- gardener. Or some of the films that Aamir Khan used to make. But now even he doesn't know where he has gone astray. Southern films have content and message. That's why southern films like 'Baahubali', 'RRR', and 'Pushpa' earned bumper. There is a dearth of content in Bollywood.

In the last eight to ten years, films containing propaganda or talking about a particular type of thing have been made. Why is the audience not liking such films?

-Yes...for the last seven to eight years, films full of propaganda, pro-government, and patriotism are being made, from which the audience is running away. The viewer understands what will happen in the film by looking at the poster. People do not want to watch films with political stunts. Today's audience wants to stay away from films that give political lessons. The audience wants light entertainment. The kind of films being made, the viewer understands from their trailer that the film is talking about the policies of the political party or their agenda. The audience doesn't want all this. I don't know whether such films are being made at the behest of the government or whether the filmmaker is self-motivated and making such films to get into the 'good books' of the government. But due to this, the film industry and theaters are all being destroyed. The viewer understands that we have come to watch the film for entertainment and social messages, but this film is talking about politics. That's why they don't watch the movie.


Do you believe that today's film producers, directors, and artists are not connected to the ground, due to which they are not able to make grassroots cinema?

-Yes yes! It’s just that. The kind of films they are making, their two-three day box office collection alone tells us how foolish these people consider the common audience to be. It is visible that the audience is completely rejecting the kind of Hindi films being made these days and these producers are also suffering huge losses. Despite this, why these people do not want to take control is beyond my understanding. Karan Johar has been making such films for some time now, which are contrary to today's society. Karan Johar is continuously facing losses by making his films fail by serving cutting-edge thinking through his films which is contrary to the thinking related to our common life.


When Manoj Kumar used to make many patriotic films including 'Kranti', at that time his films were super-duper hits. But now the audience does not want to watch even patriotic films. Why is this?

-Even today the audience will watch patriotic films, provided they make that kind of cinema. If you serve garbage in the name of patriotism, today's audience will not accept it. You mentioned Manoj Kumar's films, but tell us which patriotic film came out in the last three to four years, apart from Vicky Kosal's film 'Uri', which we would like to see even ten years from now. Even today people do not remember their names. We don't even know when these films come or go. There is nothing like this in present-day films which can touch the heart of the viewer.

The Bhojpuri film “Sasura Bada Paisa Wala” in your ‘Saraswati Talkies’ became a bumper hit, but later such films were not made and you also did not release any other Bhojpuri film in your theaters after that. What happened?

-As I have already said there is a section of society that likes to watch or listen to sex, violence, vulgar songs, and vulgar dialogues. But such a class is very small. No film can be made successful by relying on this class. Bhojpuri is full of double-meaning and sexy songs and dialogues. As a result, audiences are moving away from such films.


Where is the government to blame for the closure of a single theatre?

-First of all, the bylaws of cinema are not according to the present times. Even today, the Cinematograph Act of 1951 in Uttar Pradesh is from the British era. Today we are sitting in 2024. I would allege that the government has always exploited cinema. The government may have been talking about the development of cinema, but in reality, the government has always been against cinema. After paying a huge amount to the distributor, along with paying huge property tax, the wrong amount was also paid in the form of show tax. Cinema halls are also being closed due to the policies of our Uttar Pradesh government. Our Municipal Corporation collects many taxes including property tax. Along with this, it also takes 'show tax', whereas the municipality should not take show tax. Earlier it was twenty rupees, then it became three hundred rupees, and after a lot of fighting, now we are paying forty rupees per show every day to the municipality as show tax. This is wrong. Along with this, the government had taken money from us single theater owners many years ago in the name of the 'Film Development Fund', it was promised that in times of trouble, we would be helped by this fund, but we never got anything from this fund.


By development fund do you mean 'Film Bandhu'?

-No...When the late Mulayam Singh Yadav was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he created the 'Film Development Fund', which has now moved to 'Pickup Bhawan'. All single theater owners contributed one rupee per ticket to the 'Film Development Fund'. There were no multiplexes in those days. At that time it was said that the funds collected would be used to help single theater owners and they would be given the amount without interest if they needed it. The government has a huge amount deposited in this fund. But government policies kept changing. Governments kept changing. 'Film Bandhu' was also made. To date, the government has not given us even a single penny from the ‘Film Development Fund' to upgrade our single theater or in times of other trouble. Whereas only the money of us single theater owners is deposited in this fund. It is heard that all this money was distributed for making the film. We regret that we did not get our money at the time of trouble.

Which movie did you earn from?

Only those films were played which were family friendly and clean and people came in groups and watched the films. Now we don't even know when which movie came and when it went away. Now there is a severe shortage of good films.

Your favorite movies and artists?

-Dilip Kumar has no connection. The films done by Amitabh Bachchan are unmatched. Even today the audience likes to watch his films with rapt attention. Even today you can watch Sholay many times.

Are multiplex owners earning a lot?

-I don't think so. Multiplex is built for the upper class. Ticket rates here are quite reasonable. Apart from this, everything in their canteen is available at very high prices. Still, we don't think he is earning well. Because when films are not being made well, the audience is not going there either.


-Shantiswarup Tripathi

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