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COVID-19 lockdown: Work on Telugu films with Rs 600 Cr investment halted

PTI, Apr 27, 2020, 4:55 PM IST

Hyderabad: About 50 Telugu movies in various stages of making with an investment of approximately Rs 600 crore have been stalled due to the ongoing lockdown to contain coronavirus spread, according to C Kalyan, President of Telugu Film Producers Council.

Chiranjeevi starrer ‘Aacharya’ and ‘Baahubali’ maker SS Rajamoulis ‘RRR’ are among the movies whose production has been suspended in various stages.

Describing it as a big blow to the industry, senior producer and Ramanaidu Studios owner D Suresh said that though all his films are insured to cover the delay in production, he is not sure whether this pandemic would be accepted by the insurance companies for staking any claim.

“We are not in a position to estimate the losses to the Telugu film industry due to lockdown. Because we have no clear picture as to when the productions will be resumed when the movies will be taken to masses. Currently, guessing the future of the film industry is million-dollar questions,” Kalyan told PTI.

According to him, the Telugu film industry, known as “Tollywood”, makes nearly 200 movies every year and out of which about seven percent movies make a good profit.

Kalyan said out of the 200 films, about 60 are budgeted at Rs 3 crore and below and movies like Baahubali and RRR have changed the landscape of the industry.

“About 50 movies including 15 to 20 big-ticket ones are currently under various stages of production. These movies have already seen investments to the tune of Rs 600 to Rs 700 crore. We do not know when the production would resume,” he said.

Suresh anticipates the uncertainty would continue for some more time even if the lockdown is lifted as it is not clear when the movie screens will be thrown open for the public.

“So it could be as good as the complete financial year being washed off for the film calendar.The loss would be quite substantial,” Suresh said.

As of now four of Suresh’s movies are currently in various stages of production and three are ready to go on the floor.

He said that though he has insurance coverage for his movies he was not sure if the pandemic clause can be applicable for loss caused due to the delay in production.

“We have never faced this kind of situation in the past.We do not know how the insurance companies would react if we make a claim,” he added.

The ace producer said though banks have announced a three-month moratorium on repayment of loans, it needs to be extended as it takes a longer period for the situation to become normal.

Veteran producer and directorTammareddy Bharadwaj, who is regarded as the leader of the semi-skilled and skilled workers of the industry, said the situation may push about eight thousand people of different skill sets who depend on movie making to lose their livelihood.

“Situation is so fluid that nobody could guess what is going to happen post-lockdown.

At least 50 percent of the 16,000 work-force of the Telugu film industry may have to look out for other jobs,” Bharadwaj said.

Pulagam Chinnarayana, a film critic, said post-lockdown, the industry may witness sea changes with the imposition of restrictions at public places including movie theatres and at outdoor shoots resulting in loss of employment for many.

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