Entertainment Tollywood 15 Apr 2021 Tough times for Toll ...

Tough times for Tollywood again

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SASHIDHAR ADIVI
Published Apr 15, 2021, 7:33 pm IST
Updated Apr 15, 2021, 7:33 pm IST
Fear of COVID and rising maintenance costs are giving producers and buyers the jitters in the Telugu film industry
Nani and Ritu Varma in Tuck Jagadish
 Nani and Ritu Varma in Tuck Jagadish

The release of at least four films scheduled for April have been pushed back due to the second wave of COVID-19.  The makers of films like Love Story (April 16), Tuck Jagadish (April 23), Thalaivi, (April 23), Virata Parvam (April 30), etc., have postponed the releases indefinitely. Films like the Chiranjeevi-starrer Acharya, Venkatesh’s Narappa, etc. are likely to follow suit if the situation doesn’t improve.

While the governments of both the Telugu speaking States have clarified that there won’t be any lockdown (subject to the situation), the second wave of COVID-19, coupled with the issue of operational efficiency of theatres vs. ticket prices, is prompting filmmakers to delay releasing their films.

 

Audiences apprehensive

Filmmakers feel audiences may avoid coming to the theatres fearing they may contract the virus. Ram Mohan Rao Puskur, Chairman, Telangana State Film Development Corporation, and one of the producers of Love Story, feels that it is very difficult to draw family audiences to the theatres in the present situation.

“There’s a lot of craze for the film and director Sekhar Kammula garu is a name to reckon with among the youth, so we thought we could go all out. But since our film’s target audience (youth and family) think twice before coming to the theatres now, we have decided to postpone the release,” explains Ram Mohan, adding that most film releases have been postponed fearing that infections may go up in the next 30 days.

 

There has also been speculation that theatres in Telangana will be allowed to function at only 50% occupancy. Asked to comment on that, Ram Mohan says “There isn’t any official communication so far, but the government may clarify matters in a few days’ time.”

Pressure from buyers?

There’s a buzz that pressure from buyers is one of the strong reasons for filmmakers to delay releases. Having bagged theatrical rights for a higher price, the buyers feel that releasing films at this point will not be viable, as low viewership will not get them quick returns.

 

The Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce (TFCC) Vice President Mutyala Ramadas blames it on the rising production costs. “The lockdown and subsequent delay in release dates have added to the woes and forced producers to sell films at higher prices. The buyers have to get back their investments,” Ramdas points out.

Dim outlook for single screen theatres

Ever since the country went into lockdown last year, theatres have been badly affected. With many theatre owners indicating that they would have to shut down if no action was initiated on ticket pricing, filmmakers fear they might lose out on wider reach.

 

Several exhibbitors have been complaining that the high maintenance costs are forcing them into the red. In fact, ticket prices for Vakeel Saab were raised for the first two days in Andhra Pradesh before the government raised objections.

Eluru Suresh, an exhibitor in West Godavari, laments that the situation in small towns is even worse. “Almost all the theatres in villages and panchayat centres have been renovated and now have air-conditioning. So with power, diesel and other expenses on par with cities, how can theatre owners sustain themselves with low ticket prices?” he asks.  Suresh hopes that the industry biggies will bring this matter to the notice of the government.

 

Meanwhile...

No vendetta against Pawan Kalyan

While on one hand COVID-19 cases have been on the rise, on the other, the Pawan Kalyan-starrer Vakeel Saab opened to full houses on April 9.
Buyers of the film in Andhra Pradesh decided to sell tickets for the film at a surge price, in an attempt to get back their investments quickly.
However, following an AP High Court ruling, the State Government intervened and said that the increased prices would be applicable only for April 9 and April 10 for online tickets.
While many are seeing this as a bid by the ruling party to curb Pawan Kalyan (Chief of the rival Jenasena Party), Andhra Pradesh Film Development Corporation Chairman Vijay Chander rubbishes such speculation.
Describing it as a “welcome decision,” he says, “If tickets are sold at a premium, how can a common man watch the film on the first day? That’s why the government has changed the price. It has nothing to do with Pawan Kalyan or any political vendetta.”

 

No vendetta against Pawan Kalyan

While on one hand COVID-19 cases have been on the rise, on the other, the Pawan Kalyan-starrer Vakeel Saab opened to full houses on April 9.
Buyers of the film in Andhra Pradesh decided to sell tickets for the film at a surge price, in an attempt to get back their investments quickly.

However, following an AP High Court ruling, the State Government intervened and said that the increased prices would be applicable only for April 9 and April 10 for online tickets. While many are seeing this as a bid by the ruling party to curb Pawan Kalyan (Chief of the rival Jenasena Party), Andhra Pradesh Film Development Corporation Chairman Vijay Chander rubbishes such speculation.

 

Describing it as a “welcome decision,” he says, “If tickets are sold at a premium, how can a common man watch the film on the first day? That’s why the government has changed the price. It has nothing to do with Pawan Kalyan or any political vendetta.”

...
Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad




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