IPL - the new blockbuster in Kolkata

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/i/ipllogonew.jpg' class='caption'> The IPL has undoubtedly become the latest and hottest blockbuster in Kolkata.

Updated: May 23, 2008 12:12 IST
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The Indian Premier League (IPL) has undoubtedly become the latest and hottest blockbuster in the city - leaving the usually teeming city multiplexes and single screen cinema halls virtually empty throughout the Twenty20 series.

With Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) owner and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan promising that he would give his audience the "multiplex experience" with three hours of action-packed entertainment live on the fields every match night, theatre owners are reporting an alarming drop in earnings.

"Kolkatans are getting the chance to catch Shah Rukh Khan live in action and are not at all bothered about visiting theatre halls during the IPL," Arijit Dutta, owner of Priya Cinemas and Star theatre, told IANS. "As a result, we hardly have a handful of people for our matinee and evening shows; the night shows literally run empty."

"Our collection has come down to 20 per cent of the normal days. We can hardly manage six per cent revenue per show," Dutta said.

Shravan Shroff of Shringer Cinemas that runs the Fame plexes echoed the complaint. "Our business is affected by about 20 per cent. We hardly have audience for films like the Akshay Kumar-Kareena Kapoor-Saif Ali Khan starrer 'Tashan' and Amitabh Bachchan-starrer 'Bhootnath' that were released during the IPL."

"Thankfully there are no big Bollywood releases till June 6 (when the Amitabh-Abhishek-Aishwarya starrer 'Sarkar Raj' releases). The final of the IPL is scheduled for June 1. So we hope our business will be restored with 'Sarkar Raj'," Shroff said hopefully.

The IPL has all that it takes to keep the crowd on edge.

There is action like the hits and misses of players, Shoaib Akhtar's scintillating bowling, drama like the Eden blackout on KKR's first home match, emotion like SRK garlanding world bard Rabindranath Tagore's portrait on his birth anniversary before starting the match, music and dance by the cheerleaders and Shah Rukh Khan assuring that every KKR home match has new celebrity guests with him.

"Is there any reason to go to the plexes and waste time when we can catch all the action live and for half the cost. Besides, there is a chance to meet stars like SRK, Juhi Chawla, Arjun Rampal and Malaika Arora Khan and take their autographs," said 23-year-old Rusha Sen, a regular at all KKR matches at Eden Gardens.

The craze of the IPL has spilled among the television-watchers as well. The Television Audience Measurement (TAM) rating on April 18 - the first match of the IPL played between KKR and Bangalore Royal Challengers - was 8.21. The rating has maintained an average of seven for every KKR match since then.

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