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Picture isn't perfect in Mollywood

Nevin John  |  Chennai/ Thiruvananthapuram 

Despite tasting a roaring success in 2005, the has fallen on bad days because of high cost of production. One or two super hits are not enough to keep the film industry afloat. Industry analysts feel that at least half of the films produced in a year should clock up average success to come out of the corner.
Over Rs 120 crore is flowing into the industry every year but the returns are not commensurate, they added. A Malayalam movie made with a budget of Rs 3 crore is considered a hit if it runs for at least two months at 40 theatres, according to industry analysts.
Siyad Koker, Kerala Film Chamber secretary, says that there is a wide gap between the production cost and market base. is another challenge the Malayalam film industry is facing. Pirated CDs of newly-released films flood the market, which gnaw away the profits of the film producer.
In such a scenario, a producer spending Rs 3 crore to make a film won't stand any chance of recovering his investment, let alone making a profit, even if the films runs for two months, he adds.
Despite all these odds, 2005 turned out to be the best for the Malayalam film industry, compared to the previous years. Low-budget films as well as those starring superstars set the box office cash register ringing. Some of the biggest hits in the year were Mammootty's Rajamanikyam and Thommanum Makkalum, Mohan Lal's Udayananu Tharam and Naran, Suresh Gopi's Bharat Chandran IPS, and Dileep's Chantu Pottu.
Around 70 films were released in 2005 of which almost eight turned out to be superhits while 15 were hits. Ascribing the success to the quality of the movies, Anto Joseph, a production controller, says it is not easy to keep up the success rate.
However, there is a silver lining to the otherwise grim scenario in the Malayalam film industry. The state government recently slashed the entertainment tax on films, besides manifold hike in the cost of TV broadcast rights of latest films, which is fuelled by the channel war.
For example, TV telecast rights for a Mammootty or Mohan Lal movie is over Rs 50 lakh now. Films, starring Dileep command Rs 40 lakh.
When Doordarshan was alone in the field, the maximum a Mammootty film fetched was a paltry Rs 5 lakh for selling telecast rights.
Kollywood flicks make inroads
Big budget Tamil films are giving Malayalam movies the run for their money. Most of the Tamil movies, which are released in the state, are getting a fairly large audience and run for 100 days.
The good response to the films from the neighbouring state has jacked up the cost of distribution rights for Rajanikant-starer Shivaji to a record Rs 2 crore, according to industry sources.
"Tamil film producers do not hesitate to invest anywhere between Rs 20 crore and Rs 40 crore in special effects, costumes and other things to make a film. Such being the case, Tamil films break the language barrier and turn out to be huge success in Kerala," according to N Jayachandran, a film analyst here.
Tamil cinema is the second biggest movie industry in India after Bollywood, with a total gross touching $100 million. Most of the hit movies are released in Kerala on the same day of the Tamil Nadu release.

First Published: Wed, March 15 2006. 00:00 IST