The sharp hike in fee for actors and technicians has snowballed into a crisis for producers in Mollywood

Tune into any television channel and you are sure to come across actors in the Malayalam film industry mourning the current financial ‘crisis’.

But many actors and technicians seen in those television debates remain mum about their soaring pay packets that led to the crisis in the first place.

With few hits in 2014, the industry is already feeling the heat. Grapevine is that almost two-thirds of the budget of a movie, is devoted to the salary of actors and technicians, leaving producers in a soup.

A renowned banner had a rude shock when some ‘new generation’ directors demanded almost a 200 per cent hike just after delivering a single hit. A leading technician reportedly sought a hike of Rs. 5- Rs.12 lakh after two back-to-back hits.

G. Sureshkumar, president of the Kerala Film Producers Association, wondered how a producer would survive when even a one-hit director charges Rs. 50 lakh per film.

“Actors and technicians also raise their salary by several lakhs immediately after a hit. But don’t bother to reduce it after a dud,” he said.

With television channels applying the brakes on satellite rights, producers warn that actors and technicians are in for a slash in fee. But will they implement it, remains the million dollar question.

Viral fever

Some filmmakers are at a loss when it comes to dealing with criticism about their films on the web. While they revel in the pre-release buzz online that is as good as unpaid publicity, they turn red with rage the moment brickbats start flooding online.

Mohanlal’s Mr. Fraud and Manju Warrier’s How Old Are You are cases in point. In an industry where any publicity is good publicity, those behind Mr. Fraud were happy to play along when the social media “celebrated” the controversy involving its director and the federation of exhibitors before its release.

But the director turned furious when many netizens, who found the whole hullabaloo before the release far more engaging than the movie itself, blasted the movie online.

On the other hand, makers of How Old Are You silently reaped the benefits of social media by pitching it as Manju’s comeback vehicle. But they had no reason to feel ‘betrayed’ by online fans after the release, since they had an interesting tale to share along with the hype.

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