Film city dream fades from

Experts point out that the main reason behind its failure is in conceptualisation.

Chennai: Early this month, members of the Film Em­plo­yees Federation of So­uth India (FEFSI) made a demand to the chief mi­nister to revive the fi­lm city here. They cla­i­med that it would help film-makers and cinema technicians in the state as there was a genuine need for one.

Exactly 21 years ago, a similar idea was mooted and within two years, the first-ever full-fled­ged film city was inaugurated at Taramani. Situated amid sylvan sur­roundings on a sprawling campus stre­tching across 86 acres of greenery, the film city was constructed at a cost of over Rs 21 crore.

It boasted of Italian, Ja­p­anese and Mughal gardens and even a cascading waterfall besides the quotidian sets of police station, court and the gigantic Ayyanar statue that is so familiar to Tamil moviegoers.

When it was inaugurated in 1994, the film city was a big hit with movie-makers and the general public who could tour the place for a few bucks. “During the first year of its operation, the film city made a whopping revenue of over Rs 3 crore, almost tw­ice the sum that it was expected to generate.

Almost all film-ma­kers used the sets here,” said a senior film-maker ass­ociated with the project. During the following year, revenues dipped by half and by the third ye­ar of its existence, rev­enues plummeted.

Wh­­ile the common perception for the failure of the film city is the cha­nge of political climate in the state, industry insiders point out that the main reason behind its failure was in the conceptualisation itself.

“Japanese, Italian and Mughal gardens were a rage among film-make­rs during the first year. By the second year of its existence, movie-go­e­rs had seen enough of the film city and its sets, and film-makers felt th­at it was getting redu­n­d­ant.

Since most of the in­­­frastructure was per­m­­­anent, there was little sc­­ope for altering them and the dream merch­a­nts soon moved elsewh­e­re to execute their dre­a­ms,” says a veteran te­a­c­her at the Film and TV Institute here.

In five years, film-ma­kers had exploited ev­e­ry nook and corner of the film city and ret­ur­ned to the hillocks and meadows at Ooty and elsewhere to do their shoots. With revenues dipping from film city, successive state governments chose to hand out large chunks of the land to software parks and multinational firms.

“Today, only 13 acres remain with the ministry of information wh­ere the Film and Te­lev­ision Institute is located,” says N. Sri­n­iv­asan, principal in-ch­arge and head of cinematography at the MGR Fi­lm and Television Institute here.

Next: Shooting floors go to TV

Shooting floors go to TV

Chennai: With the first film city venture evanescing away to give rise to IT skyscrapers, is there a need for a new film city? Absolutely, say film-makers here in one voice.

“The problem with the earlier film city was that it was built with brick and mortar. Cinema does not work like this. Just give us the space and we will create the dream,” says a leading film-maker and member of FEFSI.

He points out that with the mushrooming of TV channels, most shooting floors available in the city are being gobbled up by TV channels for their shows. “These channels book these floors and studios for a minimum of six months or even a year.

Floor owners find that renting space out to TV channels a more stable source of income and less damage to the venue. Hence, we filmmakers have to go scouting for venues to shoot even simple indoor locations,” he says.

Most amateur film-makers find getting permission to shoot in public places such as wide roads or in a court complex or even a police station, a cumbersome process. They point out that if permanent sets were available with all the equipment in a single location, it would be of great use to them.

“For instance, we cannot shoot peacefully in a city street when a big star like Vikram or Ajith is acting. A huge crowd gathers always and makes our life difficult. Shooting a quiet street scene needs a whole lot of paperwork if shot in real location, while it does not add any value to the mo­vie,” says Srini­vasan, principal in-charge of the film institute.

“We get a lot of requests for such shoots, but are unable to accommodate them.”

( Source : dc )
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