VIJAYAWADA: Indifference of certain Tollywood bigwigs in seeking favours from the Andhra Pradesh government seems to have hit smaller producers and exhibitors in Telugu film industry hard, especially in the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic.
With top actors, directors and producers led by K. Chiranjeevi shying away from seeking relaxations from the Andhra Pradesh government, exhibitors and producers in the state are undergoing a bad patch, as admission rates in theatres especially in municipalities and gram panchayats are abysmally low. A section of producers is taking the risk of release and exhibition of films of late, especially low-budget films, while some others have decided to close down the cinema halls as they are no longer able to meet the expenses involved in running the theatres.
With the prevalence of the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, though the state government allowed screening of films with 50 per cent occupancy, there is not much patronage especially from families comprising women, children and aged persons. Only youngsters and people with rural background are visiting the theatres to watch films. Moreover, films are being screened just for a few shows in less than three days and there is no exception even for big-budget films.
A film exhibitor said, “If we screen a film, it costs Rs 1,000 to Rs1,500 for power to run air conditioners per show and we have to pay power bills, property tax or monthly rental for lease, 12 per cent GST and meet other expenses irrespective of the location of the theatre, be it in municipal corporation or municipality or gram panchayat where the rates of admission vary. We are planning to meet shortly to decide whether to operate theatres or close them down as screening films is no longer viable in the prevailing situation in the state.”
Though the state government recently asked the top film personalities represented by K. Chiranjeevi to get ready to meet Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy to discuss their issues, but it got delayed for some reason.
The rest of the industry, mainly exhibitors, distributors and producers also want to meet the Chief Minister’s through their representative body to brief him the ground realities the industry is facing in AP. They slammed top film personalities for initiating no step to take up film production seriously in AP as it would help generate employment for local artistes and cash-starved AP to get some revenue in the form of payment of taxes.
Telugu film industry sources say that nearly Rs 300 crore of income tax is being paid in Chennai to benefit Tamil Nadu every year by a section of top brass in the industry from both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce vice president M. Rama Dasu said, “As the AP government is willing to extend all help to the film industry, we all should unite and brief it the ground level problems including low rate of admission in theatres in some areas, so that all stakeholders will get benefit and the industry will survive, instead of coming up with personal agenda to benefit a few.”
The rest of the industry seems to be cynical about top personalities for providing no monetary benefit to AP while seeking favour from it....