This backlog is not new to the industry and hasn’t taken place just because of the strike’s closure.

The Kollywood release race Too many films not enough screens
Flix Kollywood Monday, June 04, 2018 - 13:43

“Making a film is easy these days. Releasing it is the real challenge.”

The above statement has been heard in so many different forms from different people over the past few years in Tamil Nadu. Every week, there's a barrage of films hitting the deck, with most of them going under the hammer almost immediately. And with the Kollywood strike coming to an end in April, things got worse in the industry as the rat race to screen their film for at least one show a day became the basic necessity of a producer. Where are the theatres?

The mother of this situation is undoubtedly the digital revolution in the Indian film industry, with which the overall cost of shooting and rolling out a film has been cut down to half or sometimes even lesser. Cinematographers started to get rid of film rolls, editors switched on Macbooks and what not – few music composers even got tech-savvy enough to complete a majority of their work on a basic console and a PC.

This barrage is not new to the industry and hasn’t taken place just because of the strike’s closure. In the calendar year of 2017, Tamil cinema produced 200 plus releases with an average of four films releasing in a week. The unstoppable flow ranged from the smallest ventures with meagre budgets of Rs 1 crore to the biggest ones with nationwide attention. Out of the long list of titles, only two handfuls managed to turn profitable for the producers, keeping the success rate as low as 10%.

When reading such facts, the question does arise in one’s head on why would anybody choose to produce a film when there are many other ways available to make money? Asking the same to a producer of a recently released small-budget film, who wishes to remain in anonymity, comes the answer “It’s a combination of passion and the need for glory. Cinema is a medium where we can express our views and reach the audience easily, so I opted to give it a shot as there’s no winning without trying. Unfortunately, the scene in the industry is hugely complicated than what it was few years ago. I had to run from pole to post to pin down 50 screens. By the time of the release, I was exhausted, devastated and on the verge of saying – enough!”

Producer and director Vijay Kumar, who made the critically acclaimed Uriyadi last year, was one of the few people who openly spoke about the challenges of release hurdles in Kollywood. His film had starting troubles at the box office and the positive reviews only bloomed during the weekdays. Unfortunately, it was too late for it to develop into full throttle, with successive releases resulting in a bottleneck. Vijay Kumar was ultimately heard saying in his interviews, “You cannot even buy a single cup of tea with appreciation. I regret doing Uriyadi. I didn’t come here to make money or become a star, but nobody can take up the amount of pain I have succumbed to.”

Few days ago, noted producer G Dhananjayan put up a series of tweets on his Twitter page, accounting for the huge number of films that are in line for release in the month of June. Despite the arrival of a big film such as Kaala and another hugely awaited flick – Tik Tik Tik, the number of films about to hit the screens next month is huge. After listing out all the probable dates, Dhananjayan and his team have announced that their film Mr Chandramouli will hit screens on July 6, hoping to avoid traffic as much as possible.

To put an end to all the problems, TFPC head Vishal and his team have come up with the ‘Release Regulation Committee’, a separate team who take care of the release pattern to avoid too much of a strain on the hierarchy.

“TFPC is doing its best to accommodate and stick to the policy of releasing a maximum of 3 films every week. There have been some changes due to financial muddles, but this is an idea with long-term visions, to ensure good breathing space, and give every film a shot at the box office. They plan to have the release dates finalized for films coming up in the next one month, and will be extending the time span further over the next few months. In addition to this, TFPC has also requested the producers of the biggies to lock their release date 3 months in advance, to remove confusions and provide discipline,” says a source close to the unit.

Speaking to trade analyst Naganathan, who is a staunch follower of the industry and its success ratio, we hear, “In the case of single/dual screen theatre owners, they always opt to go for the bigger films as it brings them a good opening to put their resources at work. They cannot run shows with 25% occupancy. Small films have a chance only at multiplexes, where the word of mouth begins to spread. If it fails there, game over.”

Asking him about how this gushing of releases can be controlled, “It has to be stopped at the source. At first hand, producers should be educated about the expenses and the journey to releasing a film, and moreover, making it successful. All the fares and commissions of the hierarchy should be explained to them, I believe it is being done now by TFPC. Even after such knowledge passage, if they step into the industry, they will get what they deserve,” he says.

Naganathan also states that proper organization of big films is an easy way to streamline the flow in the industry. “The release date of a big star's film must be announced 3 months in advance. The producers should make sure that they stick to it. If big films slot themselves correctly, the releases on the lower tiers can adjust accordingly. Why I don’t see that as a possible situation is because a lot of producers are now working with financiers to roll out their films. This is the reason why we have financial troubles and KDM delays for many films right until the day of release. We still have a long way to go, but we will slowly get there,” he concludes.

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