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MohanlalMalayalam films have few takers in Kerala
20th June 2008  11.00 IST
By Agencies  

Tamil, dubbed Telugu films and Hindi blockbusters are doing roaring business in Kerala, while Malayalees seem to be giving a step-motherly treatment to movies in their own language.

Only four Malayalam films of the 33 that have been released since January this year turned out to be hits, causing a loss of about Rs 30 crore so far.

'Cycle', a film by Johnny Anthony featuring Vineet Sreenivasan, son of popular Malayalam actor Sreenivasan, Satyan Anthikad's 'Innathe Chinta Vishayam' starring Mohanlal and Meera Jasmine and two Mammootty starrers 'Annan Thambi' by Anwar Rasheed and 'Rowdram' by Ranji Panicker, tasted success at the box office, according to film industry sources.

The production cost of each film works out to about Rs 1.5 crore and if it does not do well in the box office, huge losses are suffered by the industry, they say.

Rubbing salt to the wound is the fact that Tamil, dubbed Telugu films and Hindi movies do good business. Every month, at least one or two Tamil and dubbed Telugu films are released in Kerala.

Last year, about 14 dubbed Telugu films were screened in the state and almost all of them did well. Around 80 Tamil films were released in Kerala last year, they said.

Rajnikant blockbuster Sivaji was a huge hit.

Kamal Haasan 's magnum opus Dasavatharam , released in at least 50 theatres across Kerala last Friday, is already causing jitters to the Malayalam film industry.

The Tamil film is running to packed houses with tickets being sold in black for a minimum of Rs 500, the sources said.

Kamal Haasan fans waited since 5 am in queues in the state capital to view the opening show and were overjoyed at the onscreen extravaganza by the versatile actor, who is essaying 10 roles in the film. Late Sivaji Ganesan had performed nine roles in the film 'Navarathiri' earlier.

Four dubbed Telugu films -- 'Rya', 'Happy be Happy', 'Bunny' and 'Hero', all starring Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi 's nephew Allu Arjun, were superhits in Kerala this year, say industry sources.

'Lakshmi' starring Venkatesh and Nayantara and 'Boss, I Love You', another Nayantara film, have also done well.

What is it that makes these films click in Kerala while there are hardly a few takers for Malayalam films?

Industry sources say Tamil, Telugu and Hindi films are technically far superior than Malayalam films and with peppy song sequences, they attract the younger cinema-going crowd.

Hindi films are also well received in the state, especially in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode. While Amitabh Bachchan starrer Bhoothnath did not do very well, Saif Ali Khan 's Race , and Aamir Khan 's Taare Zameen Par did very well, the sources said.

Another Bachchan starrer Sarkar Raj , released last week, was also doing a brisk business, the sources said.

To add to the Malayalam film industry's woes is the present standoff between actor Dileep and Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA), an apex federation of 19 trade unions in the industry.

The rift has caused a split in MACTA with the industry's 30-odd top directors walking away en masse. The producers' and actors' associations have backed the directors who have come out of the federation.

With the All India Film Employees Confederation (AIFEC) and Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI) backing MACTA and its General Secretary Vinayan and deciding not to cooperate with the breakaway faction, the film production work could be affected.

Most of the dancers, stuntmen and technicians are from Tamil Nadu. The major part of the post-production work of Kerala films are done at the labs in Tamil Nadu and other neighbouring states.

Kerala, which earlier used to witness about 150 film releases every year, now has only about 50 new films a year.

The sources said easy availability of pirated CDs of new films, rising production cost and high remuneration of actors were all affecting the profitability of Malayalam films.

Faced with huge electricity cost, about 200 theatres in the state have closed down in recent years. They were also unable to compete with new-age theatres having the latest sound systems and big parking spaces.

During 2007, a total of 64 films were released in Kerala, including 14 dubbed ones. Only five films were a hit, thus causing huge loss to the industry.

Efforts were being made to bring down the cost, but it seemed to be a losing battle, the sources said.

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