A Blog on Cinema

Gods of absurd ideas


AMMA and Kerala Film Producers Association  came into an agreement on adopting a number of measures to save Malayalam Film industry. Here are the major ideas which got the nod from AMMA:

  • A superstar movie’s expense should not cost more than Rs.3.5 Crore
  • Film director and producer will have to give the script to the actors 45 days ahead of commencement of shooting.
  • A movie’s shooting to be completed within 45 days
  • No mobile phone usage in shooting locations.
  • Still under discussion – Actors should act from 7:30 AM to 9:00 PM

And more …

  • From Feb 5,2010 onwards only one movie released per week
  • Superstars to reduce their remuneration
  • Entire remuneration of superstars to be paid as a cheque

At a first glimpse, the AMMA and KFPA agreements seems to be well intentioned. A large number of low budget movies; people working efficiently at prescribed times; looks like the industry is in for a long haul.

As we all know, the viewership for Malayalam movies is minuscule compared to those of Hindi/Tamil/Telugu. Out of the 50 odd movies that get made just a few make money. To over come this issue, producers make low budget movies with Jayasurya, Kalabhavan Mani or Vinu Mohan, but the profit margin on them is low. To mint money, the producer has to invest in a superstar movie. But with their asking rate, it is a major risk for there is no guarantee that a superstar movie would do well; Example Angel John.

Now consider this hypothetical scenario: let us time travel to the time when movie Angel John is getting planned. Mohanlal gets the script 45 days before the shooting. He reads and okays it. He acts from 7:30AM to 9 PM daily. Shooting is over in 45 days within the budget. He saves a lot on his mobile phone bill.  Will the movie’s fate be any different than what actually happened? Same about One way ticket, Calcutta News or Love in Singapore or the 29, 482 Suresh Gopi movies.

The difference in the rates of a super star and minor star translates to excellent opening initials. After the initial weekend, when all the SMS messages have conveyed the truth, the movie sustain its collections or is sinking like the Communists in the recent elections. What gets the audience to the theaters initially is hype and hope.

If there is no substance to backup the hype, movie is bound to fail. Anyway the producer would have recouped the premium he paid to superstar in the initial collections/satellite rights/video rights etc. As long as the producer does not understand about the value of ‘substance’ no amount of artificial restrictions would save the movie.

Now think of a 3.5 crore movie. The superstar’s rate may have come down a bit, but he is still the highest paid individual in the set. The cost of film, camera etc etc won’t be affected. What will get affected though is the money lesser actors get paid. Same about the supporting staff and technicians. This move basically will bring about a decline in the quality of life for most people in the set except a few at the top. So why shouldn’t the writer or minor actor relocate to Gulf instead of toiling here.

Right now Malayalam movies have to compete with mushy serials, imported films and Priyadarshan’s remakes. These budget restriction will add artificial constraints on the movie maker and ensure that a Padayottam or Vadakkan Veeragatha or My Dear Kuttichathan will never get made. Of course there are outliers like Passenger,  a low budget movie which found great success , but we see more Uttaraswayamvarams than Passenger these days. So how is a low budget movie going to help?

Producing a movie is one of the secret desires of many. This is why you see many NRI producers even though they lack knowledge about film making dumping money into this business. If the returns are low, he is better of buying a houseboat in Vembandad.
Even if these laws gets implemented who will guard the guards?  If a producer is hell bent on financing stupid movie who is going to stop that? Will the account information be made public on a day to day basis so that the watchdogs can bite? Will there be another organization in Malayalam film industry? How hard is to subvert this artificial constraint?

This is the picture of Malayalam film industry: creativity stifled by artificial restrictions, groups governed by self interests,  and an inward looking and infighting industry hell bent on committing suicide. These latest measures at best would limit a producer’s loss to Rs.3.5 crore.  How is that for strengthening Malayalam cinema!

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  1. To add to your content, the associations who have set a limit of 3.5C for Superstar films also have found out a way of squeezing out money from the lesser actors… They will only be paid for the days they worked and not as a single payment for the movie… In other words, these ALMIGHTY associations have beautifully planned to bring daily labour into movies.

    Think of the other reprecussions the above decisions could bring… There will be less or no multi starrer movies… In other south indian film industries, its the superstars and heroes who are against sure-shot multi-starrer movies, but here its gonna be the producers… That too when even the Ms are not against acting with each other…

    We will not have any more Pazhassi Rajas… Worse, think how the Pazhassi Raja would be if it were to be made on a shoe-string budget of 3.5C… The current british actors would be replaced by the dumbo mimicry british-actors from Cinemala and Rasika Raja…

    Gosh I am atleast happy that Pazhassi Raja was made before these decisions were made…

    This idiotic decisions is a slap on the face of actors like Mammooty and Prithviraj, who are preferring to concentrate on the Malayalam film industry and do malayalam movies more, even when the Tamil and Telegu film industries are beckoning them with fatter paycheques!!!

  2. So if a director has a new project lined up that is going to cost 6 crores and his producer ready for the risk,will these associations come in and make the producer not invest 6 crores?

    I mean its the producer’s risk.Why should any association get involved in that?An absolute ceiling on the amount of money that a guy can invest?Is this cucumber city?

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  7. Intentions of making low budget movies are definitely good. As far as I understand, this is not a stringent rule as such. Exceptions are definitely allowed.

    As long as people are happy watching pirated copies of movies, it is hard to make box office hits. That is what, Kerala Cafe, Palerimaanikkam, loud speaker and many other good movies of this year proved. In this scenario of people not going to the theatres to watch movies, I feel cost cutting is the only way to save this industry.

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