HYDERABAD: After incurring heavy losses due to the Covid-19 outbreak and mushrooming of over the top (OTT) platforms, Tollywood is limping back to normalcy, with theatres and multiplexes started screening films, though strictly following the pandemic norms.
Producers and exhibitors are a relieved lot as audiences are turning up in good numbers to watch new releases.
Tinsel town started buzzing all over again as the government relaxed norms and allowed theatres to screen films. It started with the release of Love Story in October, followed by recent Akhanda which is keeping cash registers ringing. There is a slew of big-budget movies lined up for release, starting from the mid of December till mid-January, giving relief to filmmakers and cinema owners.
According to industry analysts, lockdown led to enormous subscriptions of OTTs. With audiences preferring to sit inside the comfort of homes and watch their favourite movie at their will, theatres have witnessed lesser turnouts, they say.
P. Kiran, a film producer, said, “Good content and craze for the stars are sure to bring audiences to theatres. There will be ‘House Full’ boards hung up on theatre gates again. During the initial days of Akhanda’s release, it was proved beyond that OTT can never compete with big screens. Big ticket movies scheduled for release are Spiderman on December 16, Pushpa on December 16, Shyam Singha Roy on December 24, RRR on January 7, Bheemla Nayak on January 14, Radhe Shyam and Bangarraju on January 15. These movies will work as a booster shot to bring back the traditional audiences to the theatres.”
Jeevan Kumar, a push cart vendor at Deverkonda Basti, Banjara Hills, said, “Earlier I used to watch movies in theatres four times in a week but now after a long break I watched ‘Akhanda’, in theatre. Our earnings have come down drastically. Earlier I used to make around Rs 1,000 a day. We suffered badly during the lockdown. Now our business is picking up though we are earning only Rs 300 to Rs 400 per day.”
Balgovind Raj Tadla, the owner of Devi-70 mm and Sudarshan-35 mm theatres at RTC Crossroads in the city, said, “Telugu cinema industry provides not only entertainment but employment to lakhs of people. Since movies are made with heavy budgets, a huge workforce is involved in the process. This system has to be protected for the future employment of people. When someone buys a ticket in the theatre, it will support many families other than those who are on screen.”
V.L. Sridhar, Telangana Film Chamber vice president and an exhibitor, said, “Love Story which was released in October in theatres made good returns. Akhanda made big time collections at the box office. Spiderman is scheduled to be released on December 16 and ‘Pushpa’ on 17, and the audiences started booking tickets in advance. This is an indication that the theatres are slowly getting back to normalcy.”