Sunday, March 28, 2010

Telugu film industry hit by Telangana stir

Telugu film industry hit by Telangana stir --- Postponement of releases, rescheduling of shootings is costing the industry Rs7 crore on a daily basis.

Last year it was the economic slowdown, the slump in real estate and piracy that laid the Telugu film industry low.This year, it is the ongoing political movements for and against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh that is wreaking havoc on the industry, bigger than Bollywood in terms of number of releases and second only to it in terms of business.

For the film industry, the move to create a separate state, Telangana, from Andhra Pradesh, couldn’t have come at a worse time. The industry saw only 130 releases last year (of movies made in Telugu and not dubbed into it) as compared with at least 200 in 2008. And of this, only 12 movies did well.

Of the 105 movies dubbed from other languages (including English) and released last year, only around 10 did well.

“The drastic fall in number of successful movies last year had a chain effect on the entire film industry, from producers to distributors to exhibitors all of them suffering huge losses,” says T. Prasanna Kumar, secretary of Telugu Film Producers’ Council, an industry body.

And the year has started off with pro-Telangana agitators targeting actors and others associated with the film industry, attacking shooting crews, vandalizing sets, even stalling the screening of movies in the region, comprising 10 districts, including state capital Hyderabad.

The result could be another year of losses for an industry that directly and indirectly, serves as the means of livelihood of over one million people in the state. K.C. Sekhar Babu, a film producer and secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Chamber of Commerce, says: “We are losing Rs7 crore daily owing to issues such as postponement of releases and rescheduling of shootings.”

Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of cinema halls in the country, around 2,800 across the three regions of the state, of which Telangana alone accounts for around 800, which contribute approximately 40% of total box-office collections, says Mareddi Vijayender Reddy, president of the Telangana Film Chamber of Commerce, another industry body.

Pro-Telangana agitators, led by Kavitha, daughter of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, say that they are targeting only those actors and producers who are either directly or indirectly associated with supporters of a united Andhra Pradesh.

That covers several larger-than-life actors and producers many of whom had releases lined up for Christmas or Sankranthi (the harvest festival). Typically, movies of top heroes are released during the festive and holiday seasons, mostly during Christmas and Sankranthi—box-office takings in this period contribute up to 30-40% of annual collections.

The agitation has forced film-makers to postpone these releases, says Prasanna Kumar.