Oct 31, 2008

Telugu films are being confined to just love-laced comedies ––

Acting pricey

Making a film spells big bucks. And if you want a star and a hot-shot director to boot, then the budget is likely to shoot to meteoric heights.

If the latest buzz is to be believed, more than Rs 20 crore was spent on a Pawan Kalyan starrer and a similar amount on a Mahesh Babu film.

With almost 75 per cent of the budgets being usurped by the stars and directors, there is little left for making the film. Besides compromising on quality, the new trend is detrimental to filmmaking per se. Given that ‘regular’ producers are reluctant to pay astronomical sums, the field is left open to glam-struck NRIs, the neo-rich and even the underworld. "Undeniably, the real-estate boom and advent of corporate entities has ruined Telugu cinema," bemoans a leading filmmaker.

According to our sources, top stars are hiking their fee to stay ahead of their rivals and not based on the project requirement. "It took a reigning star 30 years in the industry to cross the Rs 8 crore mark but new-age stars have crossed that with just a handful of hits," reveals a filmmaker, who says that even emerging stars are quoting above Rs 2 crore. Hotshot actresses like Ileana, Nayantara and Trisha have all surpassed the Rs 1 crore mark and are doling out dates, sometimes unmindful of the significance of their roles, says the source.

Another jolt for the producers came in the form of directors’ revised pay scales. It is learnt that a reigning director charges Rs 7 crore, while other successful directors are hovering between Rs 5 and 6 crore and even the upcoming ones charge above Rs 1 crore. "I was surprised when a one-hit director asked me for Rs 3 crore without batting an eyelid," reveals a producer, who has almost given up the project.

Probably producers wouldn't have felt the pinch if the markets had expanded proportionately. "Pay packets have doubled but the market expansion is marginal. It's a bad equation," says film critic Vasiraju Prakasam, who brands it as an undesirable trend. Leading filmmaker Rama Naidu looks at it differently. He says, "It is all about demand and supply. This trend might be just a transitory one. "

Certainly, satellite rights are fetching unheard of prices for producers besides increase in overseas collections for hits. But with stars and directors pushing up their rates, little is left for the producer and creativity is taking a beating. No wonder, Telugu films are being confined to just love-laced comedies –– relegating other interesting genres to the backseat.