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Mumbai: Multiplexes in Maharashtra will be required to reserve at least one screen for showing a Marathi movie in the prime 6-9pm slot—a move by the state government that one member of the Bollywood fraternity said undermined democracy.

“The state government will soon ask home ministry and revenue ministry to change the license conditions for multiplex and make it mandatory for them to reserve one screen for Marathi movies between 6.00pm and 9.00pm," culture minister Vinod Tawade said in the state assembly on Tuesday.

Tawade told reporters afterwards that the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government, too, had made it compulsory for multiplexes to show Marathi movies, but film exhibitors had been showing the films “deliberately at odd times, which are not suitable for common movie-goers."

Critics said the government’s intervention will end up distorting the movie market and restricting the choice for filmgoers. Mumbai is the centre of the Hindi film industry.

“This is not good for democracy," Bollywood movie producer and member of the censor board Ashok Pandit told NDTV channel. “This is not in good taste."

At least one Marathi actor, late Maharasthra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s son Riteish Deshmukh, supported the move. “Welcome news," tweeted Deshmukh, who acts in Hindi films as well. Deshmukh produced and acted in the biggest box-office grosser in Marathi cinema—Lal Bihari—last year.

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