2023 Roundup: T-town reels under super flops, fancy pay, and OTT onslaught

With more than 50-odd flops, Telugu producers are clueless about audience changing tastes

With more than 50-odd flops including star-studded movies this year, Tollywood is going through tough times and 2023 has dented the hopes of Telugu producers. While superstars and young heroes are taking home anywhere between Rs 15 to 60 crores per head, actresses crossed the Rs 4 crore mark per film and a few directors touched the Rs 25 crore mark. "Some new producers and some NRI’s have pushed the industry to the brink since they don't understand filmmaking business and doling out huge money to actors and actresses and spoiled the market. With OTT giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime cutting down on their Telugu intake, Tollywood is doomed," says producer C Kalyan who claims that producers have become "Mr Money Bags’ these days.

"Earlier, producers had control over budgets and made big films with Rs 30 to 40 crores. But now budgets have gone over Rs 100 crores and touching Rs 150 crores too, so producers are running from pillar to post to recover their money. Few top producers have shut shop since even Hindi distributors are paying less for Telugu movies," he adds.

He states that a producer suffered a heart attack due to stress, while another producer sold his properties to release a film and one more producer is reeling under Rs 100 crore losses despite making hits. "Most of the producers are suffering while stars and technicians are building swanky bungalows. Some producers are going out of reach since they are unable to handle ruthless financiers," he adds.

Admitting the downhill trend, producer Lagadapati Sridhar says, "On one hand, we welcome new producers since they provide livelihood to thousands of cine workers. On the other hand, I think neo-rich producers should take a crash course from veteran producers on slashing budgets and wasteful expenditure," says entrepreneur-turned-producer Sridhar.

"When I came into the industry 19 years ago, I met legendary producer Rama Naidu who advised me to select novel scripts and make them within specified budgets and not to fool around. So I got involved in scripts, then discuss making with the director and also take part in music sittings, so it has kept my banner alive, while others have shut shop," he adds.

Sridhar admits that many NRIs are investing in Telugu films. "I am against movie tourism by a few cash-rich NRIs who are misguided to invest more than needed for a film, so they have to have complete command. I understand they have other businesses overseas and make films for instant fame. But they are causing more harm than good since their teams are hiking remunerations which are affecting regular producers," he informs.

He calls digital platforms a new threat to Telugu films. "Flops are increasing in Tollywood because of poor and repetitive content. Even big stars must change their thinking and pick novel themes like Tamil and Malayalam stars. Competing with other languages movies on OTTs demands enriched creativity since we can’t recover money on theatricals alone, which are seeing low turnouts these days," he concludes.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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