October 10, 2010

Tollywood worried about Dubbed Movies

Tollywood filmmakers are a jittery lot these days and it is not a spate of box office duds that has them worried. It’s the fact that the Tamil film industry is increasingly making inroads into the Telugu industry that has them on tenterhooks.

Considering that Tollywood churns out the most number of movies in the country, this insecurity might come as a surprise. But recently the Telugu Film Producers’ Council passed a resolution that dubbed movies should not be released in more than 50 theatres in the state. Though the resolution can’t be legally enforced, it has raised eyebrows as a large part of Tollywood’s income comes from releases in Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and abroad.

However, with actors like Rajinikanth, Suriya, Vikram and Karthi giving Telugu movies a run for their money and as many as six Tamil directors busy doing Telugu movies, filmmakers here seem to be feeling the heat.

Tollywood filmmakers admit that there is a sense of “fear” in the industry and justify the resolution citing the need to protect small-budget movies. They say that while Tamil-dubbed movies find an audience here, “our Telugu-to-Tamil dubbed films have no takers.”

“Tamil audience don’t even accept Chiranjeevi or Mahesh Babu’s movies and Sandalwood has banned dubbing into Kannada. There is nothing wrong in us restricting the release of dubbed movies to 50 theatres. Instead of dubbing, they should remake the movie in Telugu,” says Geeta Krishna, director of Coffee Bar, a movie slated to release in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada.

Going by the statistics, it seems like Tollywood does have some real causes for concern. The English-to-Telugu dubbed 2012 collected more money than many local movies. Besides, since Robot released in 500 theatres in the state, releases of stars like Mahesh Babu and Junior NTR had to be postponed.

Senior filmmakers in Tollywood admit that the only reason for their prosperity is the poor quality of Telugu cinema.

“Robot is a blockbuster hit here. Our filmmakers make poor quality movies and fail to draw a crowd. It doesn’t make sense to restrict dubbed movie releases,” says Thammareddy Bharadwaja, senior producer and member of Telugu Film Producers’ council.

Representatives of Low Budget Film Producers guild, who have been demanding a ban on dubbed movies, say that these films are affecting their business. “We don’t get enough theatres to screen our films. Now with the advent of Tamil-to-Telugu dubbed movies, the availability of theatres has further decreased,” claims Sudarshan Rao, general-secretary of the guild.

Despite the insecurity and fear, there is no unanimous opinion in Tollywood about “importing talent” which is why the resolution was confined to restricting dubbed movie releases.

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