From Imaikkaa Nodigal to Seema Raja, what's behind Tamil film industry's never-ending release woes?
Tamil film industry insiders cite unrealistic investment as the major reason behind its release woes
Unlike Bollywood, there is always an uncertainty revolves around Tamil biggies mainly because of the financial deficit of the producers. Recently, fans of Tamil cinema’s numero uno heroine Nayanthara and fast-rising star Sivakarthikeyan eagerly waited outside the theaters to watch the first-day-first-show of Imaikkaa Nodigal and Seema Raja respectively. Theaters had opened advance bookings prior to the release so, just when fans geared up for celebrations, they were shocked with the news that the scheduled shows were canceled.
Even before Sivakarthikeyan's Seema Raja and Nayanthara's Imaikkaa Nodigal, early morning shows of Vijay’s Puli, Kamal Haasan’s Uttama Villain, STR’s Anbanavan Asaradhavan Adangadhavan, and Dhanush’s Kodi were also canceled in the past. Firstpost asked the industry insiders to know more about this never-ending release woes.
Prominent distributor Sakthivelan, who is known for releasing blockbuster films including Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru, Kadai Kutty Singam, and Geetha Govindam (Tamil Nadu), says “The major problem here is the unrealistic budget and distribution model. In Telugu, if a film collects Rs 10 crore in one area, the next project starring the same hero would be sold at a price of Rs 6 crore. But in Tamil, a film featuring a star with similar market value is being sold at a price of Rs 11 crore. As there is a huge competition, a few distributors initially agree to buy the film but towards the release, they wouldn't be able to sell it at par with the quoted price. Now, the problem comes back to the producer because he would have promised his financier to settle the borrowed money before the release date. As the distributor backed out, there comes the financial tussle between producer and financier".
“Today legendary production houses like AVM are not in the business because of this gamble. Producers want to please the stars and thus, they are investing mammoth amounts. To stay in the business, distributors also bet huge money. We all should first understand the market value and proceed," adds Sakthivelan.
Some of the producers line up more films to come out of financial pressure. “If the producer has a long list of films in the pipeline, he might try to negotiate with the financier saying that the pending dues will be cleared before the release of his next film. Sometimes, this strategy might help the producer, provided his films turn out to be box-office hits. If all the films of the producer failed to draw the desired number of audiences, he would end up in a big trouble," explains Sakthi. Producer Ashok Kumar (relative of producer/director Sasikumar) who committed suicide last year alleged famous financier Anbuchezhiyan as the main reason behind his death in the suicide note.
Following the death of Ashok, a lot of producers revolted against Anbuchezhiyan but it looks like, things are sorted out now with the financier who was seen attending many film events this year. Tamil film industry survives only with the help of a set of financiers because legitimate banks have long stopped funding Tamil films as there is no transparency and a few producers set a bad example by not repaying the loan.
“The last-minute negotiations are based on the mutual trust between the producer and his financiers. Considering the future list of films and loan repayment history of the producers, financiers might allow the release by overseeing the deficit. If the same producer doesn’t have any films in future and has a poor loan repayment history, financiers will not allow the release," says the Kadai Kutty Singam distributor who will also be releasing Vijay Devarakonda’s NOTA in Tamil Nadu.
Ruben, who owns GK Cinemas in Chennai, lists out the problems faced by theater owners because of the uncertainty that exists for Tamil biggies. “First of all, to say no to fans itself is a displeasure. There are chances for vandalism because angered fans are uncontrollable. We have to pay our employees for the extra early morning shows and provide free food. If the early morning shows get canceled, all these expenses would go in vain because we can’t reimburse it from the producers. When a film’s first show gets canceled, it sends an inauspicious feel in the business. If you look at the history, only Baahubali 2 had a tremendous run despite the release issue," says Ruben.
Industry insiders say that producers should stop pleasing heroes and carefully evaluate the investment based on the business of their previous films. If producers understand the market value and invest accordingly, there will not be any last minute pressure from financiers and thus, they can also provide peaceful movie watching experience to the audiences.
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