Telugu filmmakers singing to Bollywood's tunes
Deccan Chronicle| BVS Prakash
In their eagerness to recruit chartbuster-delivering names, are Tollywood producers ignoring local talent at huge cost?
Despite some top B-town playback singers demanding anywhere between `2 lakh and `4 lakh to croon one Telugu song, some producers and directors are chasing them big time, overlooking the rising costs of production and local talent.
Realising the demand, Mumbai-based singers like Javed Ali (Nee Kannu Neeli — Uppena and Padipoya — Alludu Adhurs), Kailesh Kher (Vaichadaiyosami — Bharat Ane Nenu), Anurag Kulkarni (Devathalantha — Naandi and Singles Anthem — Bheeshma), Armaan Malik (Butta Bomma — Ala Vaikuntapuramlo and Vishal Dadlani (Athiloka Sundari — Sarrainodu) and Nakash Aziz (Tauba Tauba — Sardar Gabbar Singh) are among those charging a bomb. Some singers even want the producers to pay the 18% GST on their behalf.
"Yes, Mumbai-based singers are demanding fancy pay cheques these days, which is unfair and unethical," rues producer C. Kalyan. "If a particular song of the singer turns out to be a chartbuster, filmmakers and composers make a beeline for him," he says.
"Talent-wise, the Mumbai singers are no match for the legendary Telugu singers like Ghantasala and SPB, who were taking home `1.5 lakh for small budget movies till recently. Yet, they are demanding three to four times more without realising that Telugu cinema has limited reach unlike Hindi films," he says, adding, "A few hits songs cannot make a singer irreplaceable."
Director Munna Dhullipudi, who roped in most-happening singer Sid Sriram for a chartbuster in his movie 30 Rojullo Preminchadam Ela, says, a popular name counts. "Sid Sriram’s enchanting number Neeli Neeli Akasam brought the crowds to theatres. It has touched the 350 million mark and is still counting," he says.
According to composer Gopi Sundar, the Tollywood is market-driven, and songs are meant for public consumption, so filmmakers have to pick names, including B-town singers, who delivered chartbusters.
"I have worked with Bollywood singers like Shankar Mahadevan and Armaan Malik for Telugu films. I discuss with filmmakers before finalising a singer. I want the best output for my song, while producers want an established name to market the number, so we need to come to an understanding," he says.
Sundar feels the language barrier is a myth. "I have introduced 150 new singers in the Malayalam industry," he points out.
On emerging competition from B-town singers like Shreya Ghoshal, Neeti Mohan and others, popular singer Sunitha Upadrashta, says, "Competition has always been there and we have to take it sportingly since it is inevitable."
While saying that she loves Shreya’s singing, Sunitha wishes more local talent would be encouraged by Telugu filmmakers. She admits that solo female songs are diminishing in T-town. "I hope filmmakers come up with more songs that reflect the mindset of girls in the movies. Female singers will also be able to showcase their range and capabilities in such numbers," she notes.
"I have been in this industry for more than two decades and have seen both ups and downs but I thank all composers for giving me good work," says Sunitha, who crooned Neeli Neeli Akasam.