Coronavirus has come as a blockbuster blow for the Telugu film industry; the second biggest in India after Bollywood, as films, valued Rs 2,000 crore either ready to be released or in production have been stuck for over a month.
With no chances of an early end to the crisis, the industry is not only staring at massive losses but also fear the loss of over 70,000 jobs in production, distribution, and exhibition departments.
Like many other industries and every film industry in the world, the coronavirus outbreak and the resultant lockdown brought everything to a standstill in Tollywood, as the Telugu film industry is popularly referred to.
According to well-known producer Daggubati Suresh, 15 films which were ready for release and another 70 films which were under various stages of production are stuck.
“Production varies from a film like RRR which is Rs 400 crore plus film to many films which are in the hundred crore bracket and a lot of films in the Rs 20-30 crore bracket. There are many with a budget of Rs 3-5 crore. There is quite a big money stalled. May be in production alone projects worth Rs 2,000 crore are stalled,” Suresh told IANS.
The big banner movies stuck include RRR of S.S. Rajamouli of Baahubali fame. Starring Ram Charan and Jr. NTR in the lead roles, it is expected to be another magnum opus from Rajamouli.
Superstar Chiranjeevi’s Acharya is another big banner movie stuck due to lockdown. Movies of leading stars like Balakrishna, Allu Arjun, Venkatesh, and Ravi Teja have gone behind schedule. Most of them are Rs 30-40 crore movies.
Nani and Vijay Devarkonda’s movies were ready for release. Ram Pothineni-starrer Red was also scheduled for April release.
The lockdown has brought all the production, distribution and exhibition activities of Suresh Productions to a grinding halt. The company had four films under production Narappa, Virata Parvam, Crush and Krishna and his Leela and it had planned three other movies.
“It’s not just films under production which are hit. My all three studios and 250-300 screens all are shut. The losses are huge,” said Suresh.
He pointed out that 1,800 cinema theatres are the worst affected by the lockdown.“With theatres closed and everyone binging on OTT, the producers, distributors, and exhibitors now know the real impact of OTT on films. So there will be a huge paradigm shift and as a supporter of Indie cinema, these challenging times are going to open doors for more opportunities,” he added. - IANS