Tollywood is nearly broke

Published Dec 26, 2014, 6:54 am IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:38 am IST
Budget control, stars throwing weight and huge salaries have pushed producers to brink
Still from Rabhasa, starring NTR Jr and Samantha
 Still from Rabhasa, starring NTR Jr and Samantha

Hyedrabad: The Telugu film industry is facing serious financial trouble. Most of the big-banner films have simply bombed at the box office, taking down with them crores in investment and producers are the worst hit. In fact, several top producers are currently struggling to even make films and a few production houses have even shut shop due to lack of funds.

Distributors too have run out of luck. The best example is Rajinikant’s Lingaa, which showed great promise before its release but turned out to be a complete washout for distributors in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. It was the same with 1, Aagadu and Rabhasa wherein financiers backed out — leaving Telugu producers high and dry.

‘No Discipline’
Production houses that showed promise didn’t last long either. R.R. Movie Makers, started by Venkat Reddy, pumped in at least Rs 300 crore into the industry, but after buying several films, and producing some duds, it closed down. RR was famous because the firm had opened its offices in almost every district of the state.  


Then there’s Yelaman-chili Sai Babu, who had put in a lot of money for the big-budget mythological Sri Rama Rajyam. But after the movie flopped, he’s now unable to release the small-budget, Intinta Annamayya — starring son Revanth.

Meanwhile, director-producer Y.V.S. Choudhary, who has been trying to release his film Rey for the past two years, is also reportedly in a financial mess. “There is no discipline now. The producers are just pumping in money when they get a big star. Without a proper script, one can’t make a successful film even with a big star cast,” says P. Varaprasad aka PVP.

PVP is currently financing several films in Tollywood and is producing six big films in 2015. He had made the big-budget Varna with Anushka and Arya that flopped. “We learn from our mistakes,” he says. “Now we have decided to control the budgets too,” he says, adding that the main reason for the slump is that there’s usually no control over a film’s budget.

But producers are not benefiting from hits either thanks to huge salaries of actors and directors, there’s hardly any profit left to take home! “There is no regulation here and it’s not one person’s fault. The system is becoming more and more personality-driven and people are not following the modern methods of doing things. That’s why we are losing money.

The money is only going to actors, directors and technicians, the rest of it is wasted in production,” reveals Suresh Babu, who has stopped financing films due to the bad system in Tollywood. Also now, it is usually the star who decides who the producer will be.

“But once it reaches a peak, the system of movie-making here will come back to what it was in the 70s, with the producer having the upper hand,” adds PVP.

Bad numbers: This year, before producer Bellamkonda Suresh released the Rs 45-crore Rabhasa, he had put in Rs 35 crore on his son’s debut Alludu Seenu. Rabhasa, however, flopped and despite Alludu Seenu’s decent opening, the producer couldn’t make profits.

There’s also the rumour that NTR Jr’s Temper, produced by Bandla Ganesh, is experiencing financial trouble. Producer Dil Raju, too, has had an expensive 2014. He had bought the distribution rights of Rabhasa for nearly Rs 7 crore and had spent huge to acquire rights of Power. Following this, he bought Aagadu’s distribution rights for Vizag for Rs 5 crore. Unfortunately, for him both Rabhasa and Aagadu bombed.

Meanwhile, producer B.V.S.N. Prasad, who produced the blockbuster Atharintiki Daredi, is also facing a financial crisis. Before this blockbuster, Prasad had four duds at the box office which had cost him nearly Rs 70 to Rs 80 crore, according to sources.