Recently we made a post criticising Mohanlal on his statement that while he and his producers should have the financial freedom to do whatever they like, while theater owners should be subject to artifical restrictions. According to the proposed restriction, the theater owners should give preference to Malayalam movies during the Holiday season and delay the release of English, Tamil and Hindi movies.
Speaking at the promotional tour of his Ivide Swargamaanu, Mohanlal said: Some kind of regulation has to be put on other language films in Kerala otherwise our industry will crash. Atleast during the holiday season like Christmas, priority should be given to Malayalam releases. The other states are protecting their industry, but in Kerala today we have to compete with Avatar, 3 Idiots and a Vettaikaran.
You might think, this is done for purely selfish reasons like minting money for his movie. But that is not so. He has the interest of Malayalam movies in mind. For example, if instead of showing Vettaikkaran in three theaters, they could have shown Paleri Manikyam in one or Chattambi Naadu in another. Now if the theaters are showing only other language movies, what will happen to good Malayalam cinema? Won’t it die? If this trend continues won’t we be all wearing Vijay t-shirts and singing “daddy mummy veetil illa, thada poda yarum illa, vilayaduvoma ulle villalla?”
Take a look at his career graph in 2009, out of six releases- Red Chillies, Sagar alias Jacky, Bhagavan, Brahmaram, Angel John, Ividum Swargamanu only two will break even Sagar alias Jacky and Ividam Swargamanu and that too only through revenue from television and DVD rights. Earlier, a Mohanlal film used to recover its cost from Kerala theatrical rights alone, but last year none of his films could sustain in the theatres.[2009- Nightmare year for Mohanlal at the box-office!]
There was no Avatar, 3 Idiots or Vettaikaran to give competition to all his other movies. Yet they flopped.
Now another question. Let us say if there were a few more theaters showing Paleri Manikyam. Would people have gone and seen it? The facts say other wise. When Paleri Manikyam was released there was no Avatar, Vettaikaran or 3 Idiots either. Still the film did not find an audience because of one fault of the producer. The lack of proper advertising. We are not saying it. The producer himself realized the mistake and tried to correct it, but it was too late.
Once upon a time we used to more than a 100 releases/year. In 2009 it was 78. Out of that 78, 68 flopped. So if a theater owner says, he has to show other language movies to keep the business going, who can fault him?
Blaming few other language films is an easy trick to hide the mistakes of Malayalam film makers: in scripting, in planning, in understanding the role of proper advertising and the effect of globalization. As Shyam Benegal said, the only way small movies can succeed is if we have multiplexes. The only way we will have multiplexes is if business men like Mohanlal put money where their mouth is and build theaters instead of blaming various external causes which are here to stay.