Is Telugu cinema set for a change of scene Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam?

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy needs the Telugu movie trade to relocate to Visakhapatnam from Hyderabad. Whereas the sops he has provided are enticing, there may be reluctance within the trade to maneuver. Appaji Reddem experiences on a dilemma that the trade has confronted as soon as earlier than 

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy needs the Telugu movie trade to relocate to Visakhapatnam from Hyderabad. Whereas the sops he has provided are enticing, there may be reluctance within the trade to maneuver. Appaji Reddem experiences on a dilemma that the trade has confronted as soon as earlier than 

The Telugu movie trade is caught in a dilemma and struck by a way of déjà vu. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy harbours a 70 mm-sized dream that he’s eager to fulfil, which is to see the trade transfer base to the scenic and populous metropolis of Visakhapatnam. This, he hopes, will assist the port metropolis develop into “a mega metropolis like Hyderabad or Chennai”. Reddy has been assiduously persuading the trade, popularly generally known as Tollywood, to shift from Hyderabad, which is positioned in Telangana and has been house for the trade for many years.

For the trade, it is a case of historical past repeating itself. About 50 years in the past, established in addition to upcoming administrators, producers and actors have been hesitant to maneuver from Madras, the place the trade was born and nurtured, to Hyderabad in united Andhra Pradesh. Again then, it was actor-producer Akkineni Nageswara Rao who was attempting to persuade reluctant producers and administrators to shoot their films in Andhra Pradesh, the place he based the Annapurna Studios in Hyderabad. The transfer, sluggish and regular, proved to do wonders for Telugu cinema.

Discussions at the moment over the second transfer have reached a fever pitch. On February 10, the State appeared star-struck. Tv channels and social media have been awash with images and movies because the Chief Minister met Chiranjeevi, Prabhas, Mahesh Babu, S.S. Rajamouli and Koratala Siva, amongst others. Aside from listening to their issues, Reddy provided them sops corresponding to land for studios and residential townships in Visakhapatnam. He reminded them that the trade earns extra income (60%) from Andhra Pradesh than Telangana. He promised to assemble a locality much like Jubilee Hills, the prosperous suburban neighbourhood in Hyderabad the place many actors stay. The Chief Minister left no stone unturned in his pursuit of getting the present on the highway.

Chiranjeevi instructed the press after the assembly that the trade too needs to develop equally within the two Telugu-speaking States. However whether or not the trade needs to shift lock, inventory and barrel to Visakhapatnam remains to be unclear.

Child steps

The journey of the Telugu movie trade started within the Madras Presidency. Within the early 1900s, Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu, generally known as the daddy of the Telugu movie trade and a pioneer of Indian cinema, began a south Indian cinematograph firm known as Star of East Movies. He additionally arrange a movie studio named Glass Studio, which had a roof made from glass to permit the solar to shine via within the days of no electrical energy. Naidu, a local of Machilipatnam in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, had moved to Madras on the age of 18 and had managed to make it massive within the movie trade. His audacious concepts quickly become actuality. He and his London-educated son, Raghupathi Surya Prakash Naidu, produced a number of movies over time, together with Bhishma Pratigna (a silent movie), Gajendra Moksham, Mathsyavatharam and Nandanaar.

However the going was robust. The corporate was anticipated to import expertise and compete with European companies within the Indian market. A resolute Naidu swam towards the tide. He made brief movies. He established Esplanade Ten Home to exhibit his movies, Gaiety Talkies on Mount Street, Crown Theatre on Mint Road, and Globe Theatre in Parasuwakka, throughout a span of some years. These theatres exhibited Indian, American and British movies. However within the following years, Naidu confronted extreme monetary points on account of intense competitors from the East India Movie Firm.

Over the following decade, different Telugu-speaking filmmakers additionally pushed the envelope. The primary Telugu talkie, Bhakta Prahlada, was made by H.M. Reddi on the units of Alam Ara, in 1932. Many Telugu movies have been shot in Calcutta and Bombay. The earlier 12 months, Reddi made the primary Indian multilingual (Telugu and Tamil) sound movie, Kalidas. The commercially profitable movie, Lavakusa, was directed by C. Pullaiah, in 1934. Socially conscious movies corresponding to Vande Mataram (1939), which offered the issues of uneven growth, and Mala Pilla (1938), on the difficulty of untouchability and produced by Sri Sarathi Studios, dominated the roost until India achieved Independence in 1947.

From then on, there was no going again for the trade. Chitoor V. Nagaiah, the director, producer and author, produced a number of traditional films together with Thyagaiah (1946). Telugu manufacturing homes corresponding to Vijaya Productions of B. Nagi Reddy and A. Chakrapani, Vijaya Vauhini Studios of B.N. Reddy, Bharani Footage of Bhanumati Ramakrishna, Prasad Artwork Footage of A.V. Subbarao, Annapurna Footage of D. Madhusudhana Rao, and Prasad Labs of L.V. Prasad have been arrange. The trade largely made bilingual films that catered to the Telugu and Tamil markets. Over 300 movies have been launched between 1950 and 1960.

The large transfer to Hyderabad

The trade’s notion started to alter when the Madras Legislative Meeting handed the Andhra State Act in 1953, to supply for the formation of the State of Andhra Pradesh with Kurnool as its capital. On November 1, 1956, Andhra State and the Telangana area of Hyderabad State have been merged to type the united Telugu-speaking State of Andhra Pradesh. But, the trade, which had constructed studios and firmly established itself in Madras, didn’t present a eager curiosity in shifting to Hyderabad. However the brand new State of Andhra Pradesh opened up new markets for Telugu movies and the trade quickly noticed a motive to increase. Quickly after the primary Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, known as for relocation of the trade, Sarathi Studios was arrange in Hyderabad in 1959. Quickly, extra administrators and producers adopted go well with. Distinguished amongst them was Akkineni Nageswara Rao, who constructed Annapurna Studios in 1976, in an virtually barren stretch of land on the outskirts of Hyderabad. By the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties, aside from Bharani Footage, all of the manufacturing homes had both moved to Andhra Pradesh or expanded. Hyderabad steadily developed as a hub for Telugu movies.

A film set being erected at Annapurna Studios in Hyderabad.

A movie set being erected at Annapurna Studios in Hyderabad.
| Photograph Credit score: Mohammed Yousuf

Inventive director, producer and author Pavani Prasad Sivalenka, 63, recalled that interval. Whereas the trade produced films in Madras, enterprise occurred in Andhra Pradesh, he mentioned. Movie personalities most popular to remain in Chennai however took lands provided by the Andhra Pradesh authorities. “A few of them shifted, however a lot of them secured land in Hyderabad for future enlargement. There have been others who received a second tackle in Hyderabad however continued to work in Madras. These embrace S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Ok. Viswanath and Sobhan Babu,” Prasad mentioned. A number of the youthful actors most popular Hyderabad and left Madras, he mentioned.

The trade expanded its roots in Hyderabad beneath the management of Chief Ministers Marri Chenna Reddy, N.T. Rama Rao, N. Chandrababu Naidu and Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. Many manufacturing homes got here up after the creation of the brand new State of Andhra Pradesh, together with Ramanaidu Studios, Padmalaya Studios, Prasad Labs, and Geeta Arts.

A game-changing addition to this was the two,000-acre Ramoji Movie Metropolis, which was in-built Hyderabad in 1996. It entered the Guinness World Information because the world’s greatest such facility. The built-in movie metropolis and thematic vacation vacation spot enabled small and massive films to be shot there. A whole lot of films in Telugu, Hindi, Tamil and English have been made in Ramoji Movie Metropolis. With units corresponding to forests, gardens, accommodations, a railway station, an airport, residence blocks, mansions and workshops, the movie metropolis emerged as a singular vacation spot for movie manufacturing homes from internationally.

The movie metropolis has about 1,200 workers, together with 8,000 brokers. The non-production revenues too are enormous contemplating the entry ticket worth, which is ₹1,150 per head. Over 15 lakh individuals go to Ramoji Movie Metropolis yearly. The movie metropolis additionally handles about 400-500 films each year in numerous Indian languages. On any given day, it has the capability to facilitate 15 shoots. In addition to severe manufacturing exercise all year long, the thematic vacation vacation spot is full of individuals visiting the units of movies like Baahubali and Wild Wild West.

A film set being erected at the shooting floor of Annapurna Studios in Hyderabad.

A movie set being erected on the taking pictures ground of Annapurna Studios in Hyderabad.
| Photograph Credit score: Mohammed Yousuf

It was within the Nineties that the Telugu movie trade lastly known as Hyderabad its everlasting house. At present, the trade is estimated to be making over 300 movies yearly. The approximate income from each Andhra Pradesh and Telangana quantities to over ₹9,000 crore each year. Contemplating the pan-India enchantment of films corresponding to Rajamouli’s Baahubali, the trade is estimated to develop multifold within the coming years. It took Tollywood greater than half a century to make the transition from Madras/Chennai to Hyderabad.

A divided Andhra Pradesh

In 2014, Parliament handed the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, creating the brand new State of Telangana. Within the strategy of bifurcation, Andhra Pradesh misplaced its capital metropolis Hyderabad and together with it, the movie trade. Hyderabad was the place prime companies and investments befell. The movie fraternity, who’re predominantly from Andhra Pradesh, have been comfortably settled in Hyderabad.

As the primary Chief Minister of bifurcated Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu appealed to the movie trade to relocate slowly to Visakhapatnam, the following finest vacation spot for filmmaking. Nevertheless, the proposal didn’t garner a lot curiosity.

Former Andhra Pradesh Movie Growth Company (APFDC) chairman Ambica Krishna mentioned Visakhapatnam has nice potential to be a vacation spot for filmmaking given its magnificence, topography and historical past. “Visakhapatnam is a greater place for filmmaking than Hyderabad. It has a protracted affiliation with the movie trade. A whole lot of movies have been made within the metropolis over the previous seven a long time. We have now recognized a 100-acre land across the metropolis the place the movie trade can develop. Some senior actors had utilized for land right here, however the efforts didn’t fructify throughout the earlier authorities’s rule,” she mentioned. In truth, when the trade moved from Madras, Visakhapatnam was the placement it initially thought-about.

Like Naidu, Reddy is now batting for Visakhapatnam as a filmmaking hub. Visakhapatnam, mentioned many, has adequate infrastructure to deal with the trade. Movie shoots happen recurrently. Ramanaidu Studios is a completely outfitted studio on a hill prime going through the ocean coast on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam. Over 100 movie shoots every year, small and massive, happen on the 33-acre studio-cum-film metropolis, in accordance with its supervisor Avinash. “Most manufacturing homes come right here for indoor and out of doors shoots. Most films made listed below are within the Telugu language. We even have a number of filmmakers from Odisha and West Bengal coming right here as these States are close by,” he mentioned. The ability is reportedly enticing for low-budget filmmakers as it’s 50% inexpensive in comparison with services in Hyderabad.

There’s additionally a completely developed movie membership, Vizag Movie Nagar Cultural Heart, which has stayed energetic over the previous few years. The membership intends to develop a residential colony for the movie fraternity in Visakhapatnam. The Normal Supervisor of the membership, T.D.S. Hari, mentioned, “We have now over 1,200 members in our membership. We’re ready for the federal government to present us extra particulars about its provide of land for the trade. If the choice is delayed, we’re ready to purchase land to develop a Movie Nagar right here.”

However is there equal enthusiasm among the many well-known movie administrators and producers and actors? Director Geeta Krishna, who has shot a number of movies, together with the award-winning Sankeertana, in and round Visakhapatnam, mentioned the provide of land is certainly enticing and can set off a shift from Hyderabad. “This was what occurred when the trade moved from Madras. Many within the trade took land and expanded their services in Hyderabad. Ultimately the ecosystem was constructed over a time period. The identical is more likely to occur in Visakhapatnam. It took a very long time to shift to Hyderabad. The shift to Visakhapatnam can also take time,” he mentioned.

Telangana gained’t hand over

What then of Hyderabad movie metropolis? The Telangana authorities appears to be like like it’ll do every part essential to hold the trade in good humour. At a time when the Andhra Pradesh authorities has lowered film ticket costs in addition to the variety of exhibits, strikes which can negatively affect the trade, the Telangana authorities has allowed a rise within the worth of tickets and within the variety of exhibits.

Throughout the movie launch operate of the Pawan Kalyan-starrer Bheemla Naik, Telangana Chief Minister Ok. Chandrasekhar Rao’s son Ok.T. Rama Rao, who’s Data Know-how Minister, acknowledged that the State authorities will do every part it could possibly to advertise the movie trade. “We’ll see to it that Hyderabad turns into the nationwide hub of the movie trade. We’re dedicated to extending our full help to the trade,” he mentioned.

The movie trade is feeling the pinch in Andhra Pradesh. Upset over the choice concerning the pricing of tickets, many within the trade needed the federal government to revoke the Authorities Order put out on this regard. In December 2021, the Andhra Pradesh authorities had introduced out the Order to limit the worth of film tickets and variety of exhibits, arguing that film makers and theatres have been exploiting the widespread man with excessive ticket charges and extra exhibits.

Minister for Data and Broadcasting and Cinematography Minister Perni Venkatramaiah (Nani) mentioned that the federal government would usher in modifications within the Cinematography Act to introduce on-line film ticketing, restrictions on the variety of exhibits, and caps on the ticket worth to regulate the exploitation. The State authorities had introduced that it’s going to provoke the method via the Movie Growth Company.

In response to the trade’s issues, articulated throughout the February 10 assembly, Reddy proposed to supply just a few concessions to movies with massive budgets of ₹100 crore or extra with regard to ticket pricing within the first week of launch. He additionally favoured a proposal to have 5 screenings per day.

The film ticket pricing episode sits quite uncomfortably with the sops introduced by the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister. Whereas the federal government says its resolution was taken conserving in thoughts the difficulty of affordability of leisure for the widespread man, some within the trade see it in a different way. Director Ram Gopal Varma mentioned that “the federal government, whereas settling scores with its political rivals, is punishing the complete trade with new ticket costs and restrictions on exhibits.” Such restrictions, he mentioned, will certainly “affect artistic zeal and discourage distributors from investing in high quality movies that would wish massive budgets.”

Branding it as “vendetta politics”, director Geeta Krishna mentioned, “I just like the Chief Minister’s insurance policies within the manifesto however for my part, the federal government’s resolution on ticket pricing is an enormous blunder.” Such a call will certainly affect the trade post-COVID-19, he added. There are films whose whole price would quantity to over ₹5,000 crore ready to be launched any time now. “The latest pan-India film Pushpa collected over ₹100 crore. The Telugu trade is essential now and is making a big effect throughout markets in India. Contemplating the bottom scenario and potential, it’s essential for the Andhra Pradesh authorities to incentivise the movie trade,” he added.

The movie trade needs to see the Andhra authorities stroll the speak on its guarantees. So as to add to Reddy’s woes, the Andhra Pradesh Excessive Courtroom has ordered the federal government to not transfer the capital from Amaravati. This can possible forged a shadow over his Visakhapatnam dream metropolis undertaking for now.

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