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Outdoor film screenings gaining popularity in Bengaluru

Here is a trivia question that may stump even the most seasoned movie buff. What is the common element in Twister, The Wedding Planner, and Grease? After all, one is a disaster film, one a romcom and the last, a musical set in the 50s.

The answer: all three feature an outdoor film screening: either a drive-in or screening at the park.

Now, if you have been hoping to catch a film under the stars as the characters in these movies (though perhaps not from Twister!), here’s your chance. The trend of outdoor film screenings has been steadily gaining popularity in Bengaluru with companies with a nationwide presence as well as local ones such as The Courtyard organizing these events.

Outdoor film screenings gaining popularity in Bengaluru

Sushen Kakkar, project manager of city-based SteppinOut which organizes SteppinOut Movie Nights, says, “Many countries abroad have film screenings in public parks. Since Bengaluru generally has good weather throughout the year, we thought we could take the concept of watching movies and shift it to a more comfortable and relaxed setting.”

SteppinOut is an old hand among the companies that organize outdoor film screenings as it organized its first event here in 2015 with a screening of The Lion King, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Sushen adds, “We have had about 80 to 85 screenings in eight cities — Hyderabad, Mumbai, Mysore, Kolkata, Indore, Kochi, Jaipur and Delhi — and 30 to 35 screenings in Bengaluru till date.”

The draw here is the fact that this setting is far more relaxed than a regular theatre, especially if you have young children. You can lounge on a bean bag, curl up on a mattress or have a drink while nibbling on some starters, while children have the satisfaction of running around and being as loud as they want without being incessantly shushed.

“The basic idea is to create an experiential movie screening rather than just two hours of watching a screen,” he adds.

Outdoor film screenings gaining popularity in Bengaluru

Nikita Naiknavare, founder of Pune-based Lost The Plot, says, “We often get parents who want to introduce their children to classics; movies such as The Sound of Music, The Parent Trap and Home Alone that they watched when younger. It’s a bonding experience for the family; it’s much more relaxed and has a bit more of a community feel. I think that is sort of what attracts people to this experience. And in India, we all love movies. That, in itself, is a draw.”

Lost The Plot started in Pune in 2014 as a rooftop cinema at a dedicated venue. In 2018, the company started looking at expansion. “Bengaluru was our choice as it’s a similar market to Pune in terms of culture and weather,” says Nikita.

The first screening was held in Bengaluru in September 2018. “We decided to open with a 90s theme complete with décor. The films screened were Speed and There’s Something About Mary at The Farmhouse in Whitefield. Apart from that, we have also had screenings at The Hub in Safina Plaza,” she says.

Outdoor film screenings gaining popularity in Bengaluru

The company has organized four major screenings so far: two at The Farmhouse and two at The Hub. “Our format in Bengaluru is that we do a movie marathon: two movies with one theme,” adds Nikita.

Shivangini Bathla, Marketing Manager, Sunset Cinema Club, says: “We screen nostalgia-driven classics as well as what is still popular. Our first screening was The Godfather in 2017 at 153 Biere Street in Whitefield. It got a brilliant response. This year, we did a Friends special since it’s the sitcom’s 25th anniversary.”

Outdoor film screenings gaining popularity in Bengaluru

The Delhi-based company started as a pop-up cinema in 2016 and only recently converted into a permanent outdoor cinema company. It has organized over 170 screenings from November 2016 till date in Delhi, Gurugram, Pune, and Mumbai. In Bengaluru, there have been over 30 screenings. Films are now screened at Skydeck at VR Bengaluru, Whitefield.

As for how the company decides on which film to screen, both Sunset Cinema Club and SteppinOut allow the public to vote for the film they want to watch from a curated list.

Rain put a damper on things and the fact that its seasonal business is the common worries when organizing open-air screenings.

Shivangini adds, “Initially, one of our challenges was making people, especially our target audience of millennials, aware of the concept. Not many people had heard about drive-ins and had probably only seen it in movies. But, now I believe we have overcome that.”

Another challenge is understanding the market. Sushen says, “Each city is different. Screening classics such as 12 Angry Men worked in Mumbai and in Bengaluru, but in Hyderabad, it didn’t work at all. So, we basically have to know what kind of audience we are catering to.”

Nikita, who is also a copyright lawyer, says: “One major challenge we started with and overcame is the licensing. We want people to know that films have a certain value associated with them. In India, we are not very familiar with IP laws. So making sure that our films are acquired in a legal way is one of the standing points of our company.”

She adds, “People have been very receptive. This gave us the validation that yes, there is a space in India for something like this.”

As for the response so far, Ila Mishra, who watched Home Alone 2 at VR Bengaluru on Christmas Eve 2017, says: “I went with friends and family and it was a great bonding experience. It was very cozy and the food available was good.” Anna S, who took her then three-year-old daughter for a screening of My Neighbor Totoro at The Courtyard last year, says: “We took our blankets and camped out. It was a lovely experience. I am waiting for my daughter to get older so she can really appreciate it.”

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Bangalore News

From highs of ₹200, onion prices cra’sh to the ₹35-40 range

After reaching highs of over ₹200 per kg, the price of onions is now seeing a steep cr’ash with the new crop harvested over the last two weeks flooding the market. This has resulted in a glut of onions, say traders.

A kilo of onions, even of the best quality, is now trading at the ₹35 — ₹40 levels in the wholesale market, leaving many farmers who hoped to cash in on the shortage unhappy. They are retailing around ₹40 — ₹50.

Traders and officials, going by the ground report on onion crop patterns and expected arrivals in the market, predict that the glut will only increase. “The prices will fall below ₹20 by the month-end and may even fall below ₹10 by February-end,” predicted Ravi Kumar of the Bangalore Onions and Potatoes Traders’ Association.

This has left the farmers worried. At present, onions from Vijayapura and Chitradurga districts and the Nasik region of Maharashtra are flo’oding the wholesale markets in the State.

“The earlier crop suffered massive da’mage owing to heavy rains. Expecting high prices, farmers — even those who used to grow maize for a second crop — started growing onions,” Mr. Kumar explained. More onions are expected to come from Punjab and Madhya Pradesh by February, even as supply from within Karnataka is also expected to go up. This will further lead to a cra’sh in prices, traders predict.

“Though the price of onions shot up recently, we did not make much profit, as the yield was very low. Onions had turned wet and were decomposing in the fields itself. What we could sell was very low. But given the prices were started growing them again, only to see the prices cra’shing in a free fall. It will be tough to bear these losses,” said Basavaraj, a farmer from Vijayapura.

However, G. Srinivasan, Director, HOPCOMS, remains optimistic and says that the demand for onions will also increase especially as many households had limited or even stopped purchasing the staple ingredient for a while. “There will be a stabilization of prices, but may not cr’ash,” he said

Coconut farmers sustain losses

Coconut farmers, too, are bearing the brunt of the price cr’ash. The price of a quintal of copra (dry coconut) that was in the range of ₹17,000-₹18,000, a few months ago, was trading at ₹11,500 on Saturday at Tiptur APMC, the prime coconut market in the State. The prices of coconuts have also seen a dip, from over ₹20 per nut to ₹17 per nut over the last few days. However, they are still being sold in the range of ₹25 and ₹30 in the retail market.

Devraj, a coconut farmer from Tiptur, said the present copra and coconut prices will not fetch them the cultivation cost.

“The input costs – diesel, labor, and fertilizers – have gone up. The cost of copra should at least be around ₹15,000 per quintal if farmers have to recover the cultivation cost. Presently, we are reeling under losses,” he added.

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Bangalore News

Central Business District set to play it smart when it comes to parking

Sometimes, even a prayer can’t get you a parking spot on Church Street. Or in any of the roads in Central Business District (CBD) in Bengaluru. But that may soon change. By the end of February, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike will introduce the first phase of the smart parking system on 12 roads in CBD. The project is being implemented on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model by the BBMP and Central Parking System (CPS). It has already kic’ked off with a pilot run on Kasturba Road. The pilot run which began on December 14, 2019 has received great response, say BBMP officials.

The trial run includes slots for 50 vehicles. A CPS spokesperson said, on an average, about 160 vehicles are parked on Kasturba Road every day. Smart parking meters will be installed on 85 roads in four phases. The total cost of the project is Rs 72 crore. Basavaraj Kabade, projects, BBMP, said, “We are taking feedback from the public about the trial run at Kasturba Road. The response has been good. As the white topping and TenderSURE works on other roads are going on, there will be some delay in the other phases.”

Citizens can use the Namma Bengaluru Parking app to find parking slots available and pay for it or they can approach a parking meter installed on the road and pay for their slot. The parking fee has been set at Rs 30 for every hour. When using the meter, car owners can enter the bay number where they’ve parked their car, the number of hours they would like to book the slot for, and pay via cash, debit or credit card or e-wallets. Vehicle owners can also extend the time slot after they have parked their vehicle. Poornima Sathyanarayanan, Director New Initiative, said, “They can book their parking bay either through the app or through the meter. Payments can be done through the app as well. A buffer time of five minutes is also provided.”

A command center at the area will monitor the parking activity. It will record the number of vehicles parked, available slots and the number of owners who have paid or not paid for the parking. Poornima added that in case the owner doesn’t pay the parking fee, the vehicle will be clamped. “There are six CCTV cameras installed for the trial run at Kasturba Road. It will be monitored.”
N Sathyanarayanan, MD, Central Parking System, said phase one will be completed by end of February. “We are in discussions with the BBMP and are yet to get some permissions and clearances. The smart parking system is being installed at roads which are wide and mostly one-way so that there is not much traffic congestion on the road.” In phase one, 12 roads will have around 500 slots for two-wheelers and four-wheelers.

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Bangalore News

Three lanes may be added to Hebbal flyover

BENGALURU:  The Bangalore Development Authority has come up with a new proposal to ease the city’s one of the most notorious traffic bottlenecks – Hebbal Flyover. Addition of three new lanes and underpass figures among the drastic changes the Authority has suggested. It has submitted its proposal to both the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) and the RITES Limited, an engineering consultancy firm specialized in major infrastructure projects.

These agencies along with the Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited have been entrusted with the task of coming up with a feasible project to decongest the flyover. BMRCL too has been roped in since its major infrastructure project the Silk Board-Airport line will pass above the flyover. Highly placed BDA sources told The New Indian Express that a grade separator proposal was submitted on January 2 and some major changes have been proposed for the first time.

“Three unidirectional lanes have been proposed to be constructed from Bengaluru city side towards the airport, crossing the Hebbal junction and an underpass from the Tumukuru end, he explained. The flyover constructed in 2003 by BDA witnesses massive traffic gridlock in the morning and evening hours. Currently, there are five lanes connecting the airport and the city via the flyover — three of them from the city towards the airport and two in the reverse direction.

“BDA had earlier proposed two more lanes from the airport to the city and some work had also begun, but stopped later. If this proposal to construct three more lanes is accepted, then there will be 10 lanes in total, five each in either direction and congestion in the lanes will be done away with,” a top official said.

Another major proposal is to dismantle the existing route (ramp) from K R Puram side towards Bengaluru city. “Instead, a new unidirectional flyover will be constructed from K R Puram. It will be done at level two around the existing one and it will be done in such a way that it will merge with another new flyover from the airport towards Bengaluru for which construction has begun already,” he added. Metro rail is proposed on level three, he said.

An underpass has also been proposed from the Tumukuru side towards the K R Puram side. “It will have an arm that will merge with the approach road of the ramp of a flyover heading towards Bengaluru,” another official said. KRDCL will also be constructing an elevated corridor passing through the junction.

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