Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No Compromise and meltdown in TOLLYWOOD

In a year when the R-word sends shivers down many spines and has even upset Bollywood film industry’s apple cart considerably, with buyers backing out of projects, films lying in the cans, stars offering a cut in their salaries, Tollywood seems to be unfazed by the global slowdown. With 40 films in the first quarter and two hits to boast, the local film industry certainly does not seem to be in meltdown mode. Even the multiplex-producers’ standoff hasn’t hit the industry at all.

“The Telugu film industry is different,” says Thammareddy Bharadwaj, president of Andhra Pradesh Producer Council, who emphasises that the Telugu film industry is not hit by recession. “For many here, films are a part of their culture. Theatres are rarely empty. Despite the fact that ticket rates have gone up, people are still flocking theatres,” he said. “Also the multiplex strike of Hindi film producers has proved to be a boon for Telugu films,” says producer D Rama Naidu.

So, what about the fact that the number of films being produced had come down? “Earlier we would produce around 120 films annually, but after the software and real estate boom, new cash-rich players entered the field and produced 60-odd extra films in a year. Now both the fields are down and therefore they are not making films. The ‘extras’ that had joined the film industry are not producing films, but regular producers are doing their regular films,” he added.
But, what about star releases that had drastically dropped to one film a year per star? “This is a drawback for the industry,” said K S Rama Rao, president of AP Film Chamber. While some stars are not taking up films because they are not happy with the scripts some other are busy with personal work and are unable to do films. “Once the stars are back on track, the industry is going to go strong. Producers are ready to make films with the top stars,” said Thammareddy.
However, he added that the stars have little impact. “There were no big star releases this year, but a lot of innovative and small-budget films like Ashta Chemma, Yuvatha and Vinayakudu made up for it. Audiences are looking for innovative films and filmmakers who take the cue will definitely succeed”.

Producer and director Puri Jagannath, who is said to have paid Rs 1 crore for Kangana to feature in a Prabhas starrer, is optimistic. “There is no recession in Tollywood. There are many films on the sets and the theatres are full of people. Nothing can ever dent the entertainment field.” said Puri, who is joining hands with other producers to make 10 films in the coming months.
With an actionpacked month ahead (as loads of promising summer releases hit the screen), it’s time to pop the bubbly in Tollywood. And the audience sure isn’t going to complain!

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