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MORNING REPORT

July 25, 1989|ALEENE MacMINN | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

The Indian film industry, which claims to be the world's biggest, is on the brink of financial disaster, with videotapes and television largely the culprits. Santosh Jain, president of the Film Distributors Council, says only 17 of 126 films released last year made money for their investors. Seven movie theaters have closed in Bombay alone this year. India's film output has been falling since a 1985 peak of 912 movies. It sank to 773 in 1988 and is expected to continue dropping. The fall in film production coincided with the import of videotapes and recorders into India. The latest government estimates for the number of VCRs were unavailable but they are expected to be far higher than the 1987 figure of 1.5 million. Videos vary from legally imported Western movies, pirated versions of Hollywood and Pakistani films smuggled into India, to Indian films either legal or pirated. Television's reach also has extended to cover 75% of the population this year from 52% in 1984. One industry executive, noting the correlation between the fall in movie audiences and the increase in video and television watchers, said that while the same pattern didn't kill the cinema industry in Hollywood, "here it seems a threat."

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