The Malayalam film industry had just gone though a disastrous 2008 with only four out of 61 movies tasting success! Most of the films, except AMMA's multistarrer Twenty:20, Jayaram starrer Veruthe Oru Bharya, Mohanlal's Madambi, and Mammootty's Annan Thampi, did not even recover the production cost. Is it possible for the industry to survive in the present conditions of global meltdown, ever-increasing budgets and negative returns? Let's see what variousnoted filmmakers have to say on the topic.
G. Suresh Kumar, president of the Producers' Association, said it has become almost impossible for the industry to survive by making big budget movies these days! The industry might start feeling the heat by March end if the economic situation does not improve. So, many producers feel that we should depend on low-budget films, costing only 1.50 crores.
"The Malayalam industry is likely to face more problems in 2009, as NRI producers in the Gulf, affected by the recession, might back out from certain projects," said Sabu Cherian, secretary of the Film Producers' Association. Ace Adoor Gopalakrishnan, however, said that recession is not affecting film-makers of serious cinema.
Director Priyanandanan has a different view. "Only some films, which are viewed as 'saleable", are getting recognition today. Films which were honoured with National awards are not even getting satellite rights. 'Parallel' cinema is facing a challenge in Kerala, which should be countered by all movie-makers who are serious about cinema. The situation now is that every aspiring director is moving to Bollywood," he added.
Director Priyadarshan said producers and directors should ensure that films recovered their costs from the initial collection in the first two weeks of release. To rake in maximum collection and boost revenues, distributors and producers must release movies in the maximum number of cinema houses, he added. Directors Lal Jose said that directors, superstars, scriptwriters and cameramen should reduce their remuneration to bring down the production cost. Notably, superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal command a price of approximately Rs. 15 million and allocate a maximum shooting period of 60 days per film.
Malayalam directors and producers have already reached at a unanimous decision to make six low-budget films, each costing 1.50 crores in 2009 and 2010. Among the six films, literary giant M.T. Vasudevan Nair will pen the script for one film to be directed and produced by Lal Jose and Suresh Kumar. Director Kamal will script and direct the second project while A.K. Sajan will once again script for action director Shaji Kailas for the third venture. Scriptwriter-director Renjith will be the director of the fourth movie, while the fifth one will be directed by Rafi-Mecartin for MHM Productions. Producer Sabu Cherian and director B. Unnikrishnan will unite for the final project of the series. Let"s wait and see whether low budget movies can save the industry from the current global meltdown!