After disastrous 2008, Tamil film industry keeps fingers crossed

January 4th, 2009 - 10:09 am ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Jan 4 (IANS) The Tamil film industry is keen to put 2008 behind, as it saw 100 of the 115 films released crash at the box office, including the Rajnikant-starrer “Kuselan”. The industry is banking on a few big-ticket releases in early 2009, even as it tries to find a strategy to minimise losses.This year the Tamil film industry is banking heavily on forthcoming big-ticket releases such as “Kandasamy”, “Villu”, “Asal”, “Ayan” and “Padikkathavan”.

While “Villu” and long-pending Madhavan-starrer “Guru En Aalu” are more or less slated for Pongal (Tamil harvest festival falling Jan 14) releases and the promos of “Padikkathavan” are on television, no one is sure about the fate of the movies.

An estimated loss of approximately Rs.700 crore (Rs.7 billion or $145 million) from last year’s flopped blockbusters have resulted in major film bodies doing a serious rethink.

Distributors have already got some measures in place.

“We have already shelved the minimum guarantee schemes and will only operate on fixed hire and revenue sharing models,” said Kalaipuli Sekharan, president of the Chennai-Chengalpattu-Tiruvallur Distributors’ Association (CCTDA).

The CCTDA and Tamil Film Producers’ Council (TFPC) had a meeting late Friday night in this regard.

“Out of 115 films released last year, only 10 proved to be hits. Of the others, only five recovered costs, resulting in losses of over Rs.7 billion. This sort of thing will not do at all,” Sekharan said.

“While overshot budgets and hype have caused films to flop, small budget films have done miserably. But for ‘Subramaniapuram’, ‘Thenavattu’, ‘Kaathalil Vizhunthen’, ‘Dindigul Sarathy’ and ‘Anjathey’, the rest did not even recover costs of prints and publicity despite being made on shoestring budgets,” Sekharan added.

“Stars are unwilling to cut their massive salaries citing their draw in the overseas markets that account for less than 26 percent of the industry’s outlay. But nobody is willing to talk about its contribution to piracy in India,” said one TFPC member on condition of anonymity.

“Our heavy losses from Rajnikant-starrer ‘Kuselan’ have taught us a lesson and have contributed to our postponing the big ticket ‘Marmayogi’ starring Kamal Haasan. Though we are on an expansion mode in other areas, we have tightened our purse-strings with regard to production of new ventures,” said sources in production house Pyramid Saimira.

“The claims of distributors are debatable because virtually 70 films’ losses were borne by producers as the films were exhibited on fixed hire basis. Blaming creators and investors is wrong per se,” another producer said.

Circumstances arising out of the dud “Aegan” starring Ajith Kumar and the global financial crisis have triggered the pullout of another movie mogul - Sri Lankan Tamil expatriate Karunamoorthy of Ayngaran International - from the forthcoming Rs.1.2 billion Rajnikant venture “Enthiran”.

While Karunamoorthy was not available for comment, sources in Sun Pictures that accounted for three of the better performers at the box office said the key was marketing the product.

“From the successful experience in marketing the first three of our products, we can safely say that Sun Pictures are on the ascendancy. While critics can pan our films, our audiences love them because we have perfected the formula for entertaining masses - not only through our television channels but also from our movies,” a company official of Sun Pictures said.

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