Tamil film industry frowns at corporate film ‘raiders’

August 11th, 2008 - 11:57 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Kuselan

Chennai, Aug 11 (IANS) Star prices in the Tamil film industry have sky rocketed ever since Mumbai’s corporate world entered the field, Entertainment majors like Adlabs, UTV, Moser Baer, Eros Entertainment and Ashtavinayak have made inroads into the southern film industry by offering 20 percent commission - making it difficult for the southern entertainment companies to compete.

Director S. Ramanarayanan, also president of the Tamil Film Producers’ Council (TFPC), said the entry of the Mumbai corporate world had rendered star prices beyond the reach of hardworking entertainment companies.

“The despicable 20 percent commission culture that has begun plaguing the south Indian film industry has allowed corporate raiders that have zero commitment to our culture to gain more than a foothold here,” Ramanarayanan told IANS.

“Driven by their yearning for pelf, they are driving star prices sky high for a reported 20 percent commission leaving the mainstays of the south high and dry,” Ramanarayanan fumed.

According to reports, the Mumbai companies are offering B-grade southern stars Rs.12 million per film - way beyond the Rs.4 million they were getting earlier. The top two stars, Rajnikant and Kamal Haasan are untouched by the new developments. While Rajnikant, whose “Kuselan” released recently, has not signed any film, Kamal is an independent filmmaker.

The other popular stars Vijay and Ajit have not signed any venture with the Mumbai firms, said a source.

“We ought to learn a thing or two from Hollywood professionals,” Ramanarayanan pointed out. “While Walt Disney is collaborating with southern mainstay Pyramid Saimira to make the forthcoming Kamal Hassan starrer ‘Marmayogi’, Warner Brothers are doing business only with the committed Saundarya Rajnikant to make an animated film.”

“Neither of the Hollywood companies pays any commission,” the director remarked.

Significantly, while most of the Mumbai-based business houses have demanded memberships of TFPC, the two Hollywood outfits have steered clear of the move as they have little interest in pocketing the generous subsidies made available by film technician Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi or capturing the world of south Indian cinema, film sources added.

The TFPC has deferred a decision to admit the Mumbai corporate houses at its next general body meeting.

“At least 80 people claiming to be directors representing Mumbai corporate entities have approached me with an unrealistically high price, provided I cooperated in fudging the books. Though I turned them down others have not,” a top actor admitted on condition of anonymity.

A top actress differed with this view.

“Till recently, top cricketers earned a pittance when the Board of Control for Cricket in India made itself the richest body in the world. The entry of corporate houses has made our sportsmen richer. So why not us as well,” the actress, who stars in at least two big ventures, argued.

Corporate houses have resented the TFPC outburst.

A source close to Moser Baer said Ramanarayanan’s views were lopsided.

“Production houses and their pet directors in the south churned out silly movies in the past at massive costs. Our entry has infused a new found professionalism into the set up. While stories can no longer be stolen, inane movies will soon be a thing of the past. The corporate world has forced arm-chair story-thieves to clean up their act or close shop,” the source said.

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