“The overseas collection of Adhurs has been heartening for all of us,” says NTR. Producer-director Chandra Siddharth admits that while, “big stars have an edge even in the overseas market, NRT viewers also patronise meaningful films.” So, while a smaller film might earn “Rs 15-20 lakh overseas”, the good part is “quality films are also appreciated,”says Chandra. From two theatres in the US, big T-town flicks now get released in 20-odd centres across US. The major centres comprise Dallas, Detroit, LA, New Jersey, New York, Atlanta and Virginia because a huge chunk of Telugu-speaking population resides in and around these centres. In spite of the flexible ticket rates ($8-12), Vijaya Saradhi, overseas distributor and dad of actor Varun Sandesh, feels that the overseas business is risky. “Three years ago it was very lucrative, but a lot of players jacked up the prices and now the business has become risky.”
Besides soaring rates, director Saikiran Adavi feels internet piracy is a big menace for the overseas market. “Pirated versions of a new film is available for download the day after the film’s release. My film Villagelo Vinayakudu could just break even,” he rues.
Besides stars, a couple of new-age Telugu filmmakers have also carved a niche for themselves among overseas viewers. Sekhar Kammula released Happy Days in the overseas market, three days prior to its India release and his upcoming film has already been sold for a hefty sum. New-age NRT filmmaker Krish says, “We understand NRTs’ film preferences, their difficulty in reaching a theatre, how weekends are favourites, etc. So I make entertaining films to draw them.”
What most filmmakers are gung-ho about are the opening of new overseas territories like the UK and Australia which are proving to be money-spinning too. As to how much more the market grows depends a lot on the content and pricing of a film and Tollywood is finally waking up to delivering on both counts.