The decision will be implemented after amending the existing rules, Culture Minister Vinod Tawde announced in the state Assembly.
Some leading Marathi film personalities welcomed the decision while opinion was divided among Bollywood celebrities over the government's move. Some filmmakers said it should not be coeercive.
Opposition Congress said though the regional movies need support and encouragement it should not be done in a coercive manner.
"We are in the process of making it mandatory for multiplexes to screen Marathi films during prime time," Tawde told the Assembly.

The movie houses will also have to screen a short film on Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema, after the national anthem.

Justifying the move, Tawde said this was an old decision and the only new thing about it is that multiplexes have been asked to screen at least one show during prime time.

"The earlier Government had made it mandatory for multiplexes to screen 124 shows (in a year) of Marathi films. The only addition I announced today is for multiplexes to screen at least one Marathi film during the 6-9 prime time slot," Tawde told reporters outside the Assembly.

"Though there was a stipulation earlier that multiplexes should screen a specific number of Marathi films, it was not mandated that there be a prime time slot for them.

"I feel the Marathi films screening during prime time will allow an entire family to enjoy the movie together," aadding, "I think you (multiplex owners) owe it to the state where you do business and earn profit."

Reacting to the decision, former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said there is nothing wrong in promoting Marathi films but there should not be any coercion on account of that.

"In screening Marathi films, there should be a via media found between Government and multiplex owners," Chavan told reporters.
Hailing the move, eminent Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said in a globalised world regional identity has to assert itself fully to stay relevant.
Tanuj Garg, however, said decisions on movie programming should be based on "business and revenue potential" and left to "distributors and exhibitors".

Filmmaker and censor board member Ashoke Pandit said, "Any kind of force is not good for a democracy... you can request these multiplexes that you adjust the regions vis a vis great cinema, a request can be made and let us understand that this is business."

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