Hyderabad: On any other day, Hyderabad’s Necklace Road – a popular lakeside boulevard – is choc-a-bloc largely with people scurrying towards one destination: Prasad’s multiplex. But on the days the Telangana Rashtra Samithi calls for an agitation, Prasad is abandoned by its popcorn-eating patrons. Tollywood is the second-largest film business centre in the country, with an annual box office collections of Rs 400 crore.
Telangana agitations have made producers nervous. “We’re incurring a loss of Rs 2 crore every day because the multiplexes have shut down. Telangana represents 40% of our audience and we have to write off all the theatrical revenue,” Suresh Babu, a leading producer and director said.
He weighs his options as he talks of the possibility of a new state. “If ever a new entity is created, we would be happy if both encourage movies as well without levying any conditions and allowing tax benefits on moviemakers,” he says.
The Telugu film industry was not always centered on Hyderabad. Chennai was the hub of Telugu and Tamil cinema till the ’70s. The shift to Hyderabad began in the early ’70s, when tax benefits were offered. “When we moved from Chennai, there was never a distinction between the different regions or dialects of Telugu,” recalls an industry veteran.
“Today, 70% of our support staff is from Telangana and we work seamlessly with them,” says Babu. Movie industry bosses think that the impact of this agitation will be short-term. “We make movies for all Telugu-speaking people, including NRIs. Ours is an industry that thrives on talent and for this, there are no regional, national or local barriers,” he adds.
The Andhra Pradesh Film Chamber rules out the option of moving out of Hyderabad as heavy investments need to be made for setting up studios and digital intermediates. The producers are waiting for a happy ending. It’s a wait that may be longer than the usual three hours. Economic Times