What's happened in Tollywood since the coronavirus outbreak
With no releases in sight and even shootings and other events suspended due to the scare, Tollywood has been hit hard due to the coronavirus outbreak
It's been five days since activities in the Telugu cinema industry have been put on hold due to the coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic. With no releases in sight and even the shootings and other events suspended due to the scare, Tollywood has been hit hard. The abrupt halt is more worrying because it comes at a time when a stream of films are ready for release during the lucrative summer holiday season.
The livelihood of several employees, who work for daily wages and live paycheck-to-paycheck, has been affected. The pandemic is also beginning to pack a devastating punch to several producers, who are worried about their financial situation if the COVID-19 outbreak extends into the next month.
“A lot of work needs to be completed and it all came to a grinding halt. I may dip into my savings, but it's going to be tough for daily workers and several others to scrape by. The real issue begins if this goes into the next month as production houses can’t absorb the cost of the delay. Trade bodies too will find it hard to carry out their work,” says producer Suresh Babu Daggubati.
The present shut down would mean a loss of around Rs 8 crore per day, according to some of Telugu film trade analysts.
“The latest releases like Kanulu Kanulanu Dochayante, Angrezi Medium, and Baaghi 3 are the most affected as people stopped turning up to watch films due to the coronavirus outbreak. Even after the theatres' resume operations, these films may find it difficult to continue the run due to prior agreements. While it is difficult to quantify how much loss the industry would incur at the moment, the situation looks unstable,” observes Suresh.
Producer Y Ravi Shankar, whose film Uppena is up for release soon, says, “Theatres were shutdown for three-four days in 2018 and shootings were stalled due to employees strike in 2014. However, this is a first-of-its-kind situation where the government has ordered to close the theatres due to a pandemic. It’s hard to predict the magnitude of the loss, but it is something that we cannot take lightly. We will wait till March 31 to take a call on whether to release our film on April 2 or not."
DVV Danayya, who is producing SS Rajamouli’s period action entertainer RRR, says the delay in production hasn’t put the team under pressure. “We are concerned about the safety of our cast and crew. However, we are not worried about the delay as we have meticulously planned all the schedules and I don’t think this would lead to an additional financial burden. We also pushed our film’s release from July 31 to January 8. We have enough time to wrap up the remaining portions,” says Danayya, who is optimistic that the crisis will eventually end and when it does, he believes “the situation will improve.”
The postponed or stalled list:
The coronavirus pandemic has already forced several projects to either change the shooting schedules or shut down entirely. Even the release dates of some films were postponed indefinitely.
*Chiranjeevi-starrer Acharya, which was in the midst of production in Ramoji Film City, was stalled mid-way. In a statement, the 64-year-old actor stated that they will resume the shoot after 15 days.
*The cast and crew of Prabhas 20 returned to Hyderabad from Georgia due to the outbreak. Director Radha Krishna Kumar stated that they wrapped up the schedule ahead of time owing to the COVID-19 global outbreak.
*The shooting of Venkatesh's upcoming film, Narappa, which was underway in Madurai until Tuesday, has been suspended.
*Release dates of Nani and Sudheer Babu’s upcoming film V - The Movie and Rana Daggubati’s Aranya have been postponed due to increased concerns of coronavirus. Many more films are expected to follow suit soon.
*Adivi Sesh, who was supposed to make crucial announcements about his upcoming film Major on March 15, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, has postponed his plans. “We want to spread solidarity as the COVID-19 crisis continues across the world and decided not to make any announcements at the moment. We have temporarily halted the shooting of Major, which was progressing in RFC as a preventive measure and will be using this break time for other production work,” says Sesh.