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Mollywood gears up to tackle recession blues

With the spectre of financial crisis looming large in the wake of global meltdown and a spate of big budget movies bombing at the box-office, producers of Malayalam cinema are mulling low budget movies.

regional movies Updated: Jan 30, 2009 18:53 IST
M V Girishkumar

With the spectre of financial crisis looming large in the wake of global meltdown and a spate of big budget movies bombing at the box-office, producers of Malayalam cinema are mulling low budget movies.

Mollywood, as the Malayalam film industry is popularly known, had a disastrous 2008 with only four out of 61 movies tasting success. Majority of films did not get the amount spent on production and only a handful of break-even films were sustaining the industry, G Suresh Kumar, President of the Producers Association, said.

According to distributors, the Joshy-directed superstar-studded film 'Twenty20' which had top stars Mammootty, Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi, the Jayaram-starrer 'Veruthe Oru Bharya' directed by Akku Akbar, 'Madambi' by B Unnikrishnan and 'Annan Thampi' by Anwar Rasheed were the most successful movies last year.

With the global meltdown and big budget movies flopping, producers propose to make films within a limited budget of Rs 1.5 crore in the coming months, Suresh Kumar said.

He said it was impossible for the industry to survive by launching movies made on big budgets.

Popular director Lal Jose, who is joining hands with litterateur M T Vasudevan Nair for a low budget movie, said the industry required such bold moves. The director said he was prepared for a cut in fee for being part of such ventures.

According to trade sources, projects worth Rs 40 crore have already been announced in the first quarter of 2009. This includes Mohanlal's 'Sagar alias Jackie' and Mammootty's 'Pattanthil Bhootham'.

But many producers feel that the industry might start feeling the heat by March end if the economic situation does not improve.

"The Malayalam industry is likely to face problems this year as NRI producers in the Gulf, affected by the recession might back out from certain projects," Sabu Cherian, Secretary of the Film Producers Association, said.

Ace film-maker and winner of the Dadasaheb Phalke award Adoor Gopalakrishnan, however said, recession was not affecting film-makers of serious cinema.

The spending for production for a film could be contained within Rs one crore if unnecessary expenditure was avoided, he told PTI here.

Priyanandanan, who won the best National Director award for his film 'Neythukaran,' has a different view. Only some films which are viewed as 'saleable' are getting recognition. Films, which had won awards at the national level are not getting even satellite rights," he said.

'Parallel' cinema was facing a challenge in Kerala, which should be countered by all movie-makers who were serious about cinema. The situation now was that every aspiring director was moving to Bollywood, Priyanandanan said.