People who have grown up watching films when there were no multiplexes will tell you tales of their struggle to procure one movie ticket. Standing in long queues for hours also did not ensure the ticket.
Touts or black marketeers of tickets came to the rescue of those who did not want to go home without watching their favourite star’s films. Adamant on watching the first show of the film, people would buy tickets from the touts dotting movie theatres, at a much higher price than the original. The prices were even higher when the film had heroes such as Govinda, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan.
A professional, Vishal Verma recalls buying one ticket of Rs 10 for Rs 30 in black, not very long ago. “It was for a first day first show and the film was Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. At that time, movie tickets were not available on internet,” he says.
However, with single-screen theatres vanishing from the City and multi-screen movie halls cropping up very fast, people do not feel the need to buy either from black-marketeers or at a price higher than the original one. Is buying and selling of movie tickets on black really a thing of the past?
Yes, say cinema halls, citing various reasons. Around 10-12 years ago, in the entire Delhi and NCR, there were four-five movie theatres. On a single day, not more than 40 shows were screened. Now, with rise in the number of multiple-screen theatres, 1500 shows run every day of a single film especially if it is as big as an Agneepath or Rowdy Rathore. When there are enough halls and tickets, nobody needs to buy them from touts,” says R K Mehrotra, General Manager, Delite Cinemas in Darya Ganj.
There are other reasons also that have pushed black-marketeers away. Easy availability of tickets through internet and tele-bookings is one of them. “Very few people buy tickets at ticket windows of theatres now. There are facilities of online booking, home delivery and tele-booking that have literally eliminated the role of black-marketeers. Also, unlike today, the films’ shows would be houseful for many days because of shortage of theatres,” shares N R Saini, General Manager, Golcha Cinemas.
While the movie tickets would cost not more than Rs 25 some 15-16 years ago, the prices for the same have gone up to Rs 650 at select theatres. “When tickets are already coming at expensive rates, naturally people prefer booking them in advance. Where is the scope of black-marketing of tickets?” asks Mehrotra.
So, has the trend of buying and selling film tickets in black completely faded away?
Street vendors outside one of the oldest cinema halls in Connaught Place- Rivoli say it is not as frequent as it used to be previously, but on weekends touts are definitely spotted outside theatres.
“The rush is usually on weekends. Touts get their customers on Saturdays and Sundays mostly. But with increasing police intervention, their presence is becoming negligible,” says a street vendor outside the Cinema hall.