Food prices in multiplexes come under court scrutiny

Food prices in multiplexes come under court scrutiny

Can a multiplex stop you from carrying home food inside? That’s one of the questions the Bombay High Court is hearing.

Last week, the Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government why it could not regulate the prices of food items being sold at exorbitant rates in multiplexes.

That was in response to a public-interest case filed by movie buff Jainendra Baxi through his lawyer Aditya Pratap.

No legal provision prohibits movie goers from carrying personal food articles or water into the cinema halls, the petition says.

Besides the sky-high prices, movie buffs have other concerns. Those with food allergies and diet restrictions are forced to eat snacks nutritionists classify as junk food.

Senior citizens and those suffering from medical conditions such as diabetes, who must eat at regular intervals, are also put to inconvenience because of the multiplex monopoly on food.

Metrolife checked out prices in Bengaluru, and popcorn is sometimes priced higher than a ticket.

What movie buffs say

They promote junk food

Food blogger Rumana Nazarali often spends about Rs 300 on a ticket and at least Rs 300 on food.

“I’ve started eating healthy and the multiplexes don’t offer anything in that category. Even if they have sandwiches, they are mostly stale and are priced at not less than Rs 200,” she says.

Her mother, who is diabetic, stopped going out to watch movies. “Once she wanted to eat something and we bought popcorn, but she felt sick at the multiplex. The security even throws away chewing gum or nutri bars in my handbag.”

‘I now eat before or after a movie’

Content writer Nithya Shreeram catches movies on weekdays as the tickets are cheaper. “It feels incomplete to watch a movie without popcorn or chips. Unfortunately, they are priced double the tickets. I fell sick after eating cold popcorn once.”

Nithya now eats either before or after the movie. “Even a bottle of water costs Rs 80 to Rs 100, which is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t buy a bottle from outside or take one that I already carry in my bag,” she says.

‘Rs 1,500 a movie is too much’

Blogger Prateek Thakker ends up spending close to Rs 1,500 on tickets and food every time he goes to a multiplex with a friend.

“If we are going for a night show after work, a tub of popcorn and a soda becomes the dinner. My wallet isn’t too happy.” It’s not just people with chronic illnesses that could benefit from home food but others too, says Prateek. “If you have an upset stomach, buying something inside the multiplex is not an option. Sadly, we are not allowed even to carry a packet of biscuits or home food.”

Policy by July 25

Aditya Pratap, lawyer fighting the case against multiplexes, says

“Multiplex owners have gone on to defend themselves saying multiplexes are private property. They might be, but they are public places in law. Owners also say the cinema ticket is a contract which prohibits outside food. Our stand is that a contract is a private agreement that cannot override your Constitutional rights.”

The High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to come up with a policy by July 25, Pratap told Metrolife from Mumbai.

Sugary drinks

Diabetics are at a particular disadvantage as multiplexes promote sugary colas. Most of the time, they stock no diet drinks.

Mumbai case

The PIL filed in Mumbai is asking the High Court to restore the right to carry food and water into multiplexes. It is not seeking a cap on food pricing, since the multiplexes could then argue their right to do business was being infringed.

“Since food in the multiplexes is expensive, it’s not practical for audiences to go for a movie every week. That impacts negatively on filmmakers. A regulation of prices will immensely help everyone.”

— Actor Shreyas Chinga

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