'Gandhi class' makes silent exit from theatres

Frontbenchers are deprived of the slot reserved for them

Do you know there is a bond between theatres and Mahatma Gandhi? A dedicated row is named after the great personality as ‘Gandhi class’.

However, the sad story is- Gandhi here too is slowly being relegated to the pages of history.  Similar is the story nation-wide. The front row in cinema halls are popular as ‘Gandhi class’ for the cheapest fare in comparison to other classes- balcony or lower class (also called second class). 

It was the exclusive slot for economically weaker sections also called as frontbenchers in cine circuit. They also had the privilege of watching their screen gods in close-up albeit on screen.

Why it was named after Gandhi is- for the simple life style the great personality lived. Here, the particular class is also offered in a simplest fare. Among 15 major cine halls in the city, hardly a few- two or three still have ‘Gandhi class’ to offer but with less number of seats. 

Earlier, the theatres were having nearly 100 seats for Gandhis. The tickets are sold between Rs 10 and Rs 15. While the rest have removed the particular rows for reasons- from dwindling audience to changing mindset of the people who never mind to shell a pie or two extra for the privilege of watching a movie in swanky balcony or even middle class. 

Said an exhibitor who has nearly four decades of experience in the realm- Gandhi class is a must according to the law.  Five to 10 per cent of the total capacity should be reserved for the weaker sections of the society. 

Quoting late N Veeraswamy a popular Kannada film producer and distributor and father of actor V Ravichandran, the exhibitor said- the frontbenchers are the opinion makers.

Those were the days when the distributors were keen on knowing their pulse. If the tickets for Gandhi... were sold out, common was the opinion about other classes. 

It was also the criterion to decide the fate of a movie-either hit or flop. It was the same front benchers making a crinkling sound tossing coins in awe of their favourite actors. The class would be full and it’s still the same for commercials- especially action packed movies, irrespective of languages.

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