Dwindling patronage and heavy taxes ail the sector

The movie-crazy Vijayawada city is known to have contributed a great deal to the ever-altering destiny of the Telugu film industry.

Not very long ago, people involved in distribution and exhibition of films did a roaring business here. But of late, the situation has turned over- a steep rise in taxes and low success rate of films being some of the reasons.

To quote a current instance, to keep himself afloat in this dog-eat-dog world, the distributor of Ravi Teja-starrer ‘Nippu' paid nearly Rs.1.2 crore for the film, against its original price of Rs.80 lakh.

Reason: The hype that raised the hope that the ‘crazy combination' of Gunasekhar (Director), Y.V.S. Chowdary (Producer) and Ravi Teja will set the cash registers ringing. But, the film is already being dubbed as a ‘disaster' and trade pundits doubt if the collections will even cross Rs.40 lakh. Eye-witnesses talk of empty theatres on the very second day of the film's release here.

Drastic drop in audiences in theatres is not the case only with big banners. The same pattern goes for small budget movies. Recent films like Siddharth-Amala Paul-starrer Love Failure, SMS starring Mahesh Babu's brother-in-law Sudhir Babu and musical hit Rishi are said to be doing an average business.

“Film business is no more a lucrative preposition. Earlier, when Vijayawada was a municipality, this sector was one of the most reliable sources of income for the civic body. The revenue earned by this sector used to feed the municipal body,” recalls R.V. Bhupal Prasad, president of Vijayawada Cine Exhibitors' Association.

Dwindling business coupled with a series of taxes has been ailing the sector for some time.

“To be frank, we are at a point where we are forced to generate money from other sources and pump into this business, all for prestige sake,” rues the dismayed exhibitor.

A steep hike in trade licence fee by the local municipal authorities is the latest irritant.

“What was Rs. 500 last year has been enhanced to Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 45,000, depending on the grade of the cinema theatre. Setting a deadline of February 29, the Corporation has threatened to lock the theatres if the owners default,” he says.

Retrospective effect

The theatre owners are expected to pay the sum with retrospective effect from 2007.

“For some of us, it runs into nearly Rs. 40 lakh - Rs. 45 lakh,” he points out.

High power tariff, VAT, low admission rates, new set of guidelines on fire safety norms and the latest service tax of 10.3 per cent on the film industry are other issues compounding their woes.


  • Eye-witnesses talk of empty theatres on the very second day of the latest release- ‘Nippu'

  • A steep hike in trade licence fee by the local municipal authorities is the latest irritant