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35 flops and counting, Mollywood presents a grim picture

G. Krishnakumar
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Over 35 of the nearly 40 movies released in the past two-and-a-half monthssank without a trace; industry reports average loss of Rs.57 crore

Two-and-a-half months into 2014, the box-office report card for the new year looks far from encouraging.

Over 35 out of the nearly 40 movies released this year sank without a trace. Only two films, 1983 and Om Shanti Oshana, have managed to register profits.

Estimates by the Kerala Film Producers Association peg the average loss at around Rs. 57 crore.

The lukewarm initial box-office response to actor Mammootty’s latest flick Praise the Lord , which released on Thursday, has set alarm bells ringing. Last year, only 80 out of the 158 movies registered with the association reached cinemas.

Predicting that the situation might turn into a full-blown crisis by June, association president G. Suresh Kumar said many films released this year had bombed, without being able to collect even Rs.50,000 from ticket sales.

Satellite rights

Mollywood is feeling the heat as television channels have decided that they will pay only 30 per cent of satellite rights as advance from now onwards.

Mr. Suresh Kumar said three major productions, with lead actors, had been shelved in the wake of the move by the Kerala Television Federation to check unrealistic amounts being charged as satellite rights for ‘super star’ movies.

A Mamootty or Mohanlal starrer used to earn around Rs. 5 crore satellite rights while movies of youngsters like Prithviraj and Nivin Pauly could bring in nearly Rs. 3 crore for the producer.

Mr. Suresh Kumar said the trend would soon face a natural death.

“Actors and technicians must slash their fee to save the industry from a crisis. The cost of some of the Malayalam movies has shot up to Rs. 8 crore to Rs. 10 crore these days,” he said.

M.C. Bobby, treasurer of the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, said the only way for Mollywood’s survival was to discourage the growing trend of movies being made with the sole intention of bagging satellite rights. “It’s a risky finance model that would eventually burst on its own. Only a concerted effort on the part of the industry stakeholders will help Mollywood survive in the coming days,” he said.

A popular comedian, on conditions of anonymity, blamed a section of fly-by-night producers in Mollywood for the present mess. “They are being misled by a section of the industry members, who assure them impressive satellite rights for their movie. At least three-fourth of the producers this year are newcomers. A majority of the main production banners have now left the scene,” he said.

P.V. Basheer Ahamed, president of the Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation, said noted producers would come back once the television houses decided to buy only good movies. “Exhibitors also support the view that there is no point in increasing the number of releases, with many films leaving theatres one or two days after their release,” he said.

G. Krishnakumar

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