Crunch time

ON THE eve of Tamil New Year, traditionally a good season to start the summer crop of releases, the film industry is facing its biggest ever crisis.

The first quarter has been terrible as trade pundits are rattling off figures of doom.

Till March 31, 19 films have released this year and there is only one genuine hit and over Rs. 120 crores have been lost.

The box-office is at an all time low, with nearly eight films being announced as Tamil `Puthandu' releases — "Kathal Sadugudu", "Geethai", "Arasu", "Sena", "Dum", "Banda Paramasivam", "Lesa Lesa" and "Three Roses". Almost 90 per cent of Tamil films are released directly by the producers these days and most of the Tamil New Year releases are lying unsold, as there are no buyers. So there are chances that the films could get delayed further. What's going wrong? Trade analysts insist that Tamil film budgets have gone through the roof as stars are getting 50 per cent of the budget as salary. And after continuous losses distributors are not willing to risk their money on big budget star movies. This has resulted in many stars having little work.