Prasanna: Stop harping about hike in ticket price

It is common for a producer to face ups and downs in his career, this is a phase that Dil Raju had seen earlier too. A string of disasters from his production house this time is pushing critics and film pundits and other producers alike to analyse what is going wrong and they are looking for suggestive measures. We even heard that Dil Raju had shelved all his ten to be produced projects for the time being and even suggested other producers to do so till the situation in the film industry stabilises. spoke to writer Prasanna who had worked with Dil Raju earlier and he said this:

“I am not sure if the producer had made a statement as such but if he has done that, it doesn’t make sense. Just because one producer is facing a lean phase, it doesn’t seem right to suggest others to distance themselves from film making for some time. If a film has good content, it will definitely run but the longevity at the theatres is less. All the films that released recently like Major, RRR, Vikram could have done a better job at the box office. It has collected less than its capacity. We have to find a solution for this. One, I feel that we ourselves are talking aloud that ticket rates are unaffordable and are being hiked time and again. A common man never goes to the theatre in advance and finds out if the rates have risen. If you go to a film with your family, you think of day and time and not money. Either one or two or four people go based on the money they have or they drop the idea of watching the film. We are spoiling the minds of the people by informing them of a price hike. By hiking rates, the repeat audience vanishes. The second time a movie buff sees a film, he will wait till a popular song or a popular comedy scene arises and leaves the theatre. In villages, people go to a market and when they find time, they want to go and sit in a theatre for various reasons. It could be for a song, a fight, a few comedy scenes etc. Now these people have stopped coming and by stating that the ticket rates have hiked, even the first time crowd has stopped coming.

Prasanna also cites that when a good film like Major arrives, people are not interested to step out because they know it will come on OTT. We should get the guts to postpone the OTT release. Also the apps are available on the phone. He adds, “If I am the sort to put off my film attendance in a theatre, I will definitely put it off for another day or wait for an OTT release. Also if the audience gets to know that this film will not come on the OTT for six months, they will feel the urge and the need to go to the theatre because they can’t see it in their drawing rooms or phones anytime soon. We should slowly create a habit of going to theatres.”

The writer says it is the bad content that we are producing being the cause for bad footfalls in the theatre. He insists that we should stop talking about ticket price, OTT which is distancing us from a film that creates mood and stops us from visiting theatres. If people are not watching cinema, rain is just an excuse, he says confidently. He quips, “If RRR releases today, can rain stop me from going. If rains stop, will collections of bad films improve? People don’t have the mood to go to the theatre and we should bring the old cycle back. Every person has money, it is rotating and people will see cinema no matter what if the content is good. If RRR releases, I will go to the theatre, if ordinary content releases I will wait for OTT is the mindset of people now. If we keep this ordinary film away from OTT for a long time, people will see it at the cinemas.”

A few films that were released this month and the last have directors whose credentials are not known to the public. These directors are debutants whose identity is recognised only by the industry people. A common man wouldn’t know who is and where he is from, and if he had directed any short films earlier. He doesn’t pull audiences to the theatre. A star with a naxal background will also not draw curiosity because the audience expects song and dance, some action and entertainment from him. When there is no romance, no jokes..obviously people will refrain from watching. Also women centric films and mass films have no guarantee of running at the theatres. Every cinema is not a Mahanati and even a mass movie with a great song could fail to get a decent opening. Prasanna says, “We do a good film, also we need to see how we sell the fim. Cinema is the cheapest form of entertainment. Pubs and hotels are expensive. If cinema is available at such cheap rates and if people are not going, it is an empathetic state. It is untrue that people watch only entertainment, they see any film. I admit they don’t like preachy stuff but masala films always have an audience.”

The writer comes up with a very good idea of reducing cost but wonders if the stars will receive it in a good spirit if they were to suggest. Instead he wants a person like Chiranjeevi to hold a meeting of stars and anyone who draws five crore and above as remuneration to reduce their price for at least two years. He thinks aloud, “Because of OTT, recovery is assured but that doesn’t mean we should spend so much money on a hero. In the process of pleasing heroes, we are raising budgets. Chiranjeevi and Ram Charan’s Acharya was a minimum guarantee movie and the distributors said that they bought it because of Kajal’s presence. There is no Kajal suddenly for whatever reason but a good combination becomes a mandatory issue for business. The hero’s budget forms more than half of the film’s budget. If we hike the budget, we have no choice but to approach OTT. If I go to OTT, the film dies. OTT like satellite should be a second option. These days OTT also has no money. They have a budget to take it to a certain length in six has to reach this many people and this money is reserved for publicity. Due to Covid, they bought films for six years and now there is excess content. They will now buy films only at their price.”

He adds, “We also need to check the market value of the hero and pay him accordingly. There should be a sharing system in the profits. If a hero works for free in a film and draws a profit, he can assess his capacity to pull the crowd. A Tamil star is charging 30 crores remuneration and has a market of 40 crore. In this difference of ten crore, the producer has to struggle to execute the film.” A star for instance hiked his price after the success of his film. This was followed by a string of flops but he never reduced the price. Remunerations are rising and so are the budgets so heros should take a step forward. If a superstar is drawing 40 or 50 crores, he should cut his price, there is nothing he loses from this. All stars should revive the economy. The budgets are being reduced for a small salaried guy who is struggling but producers never touch the tier one stars. They are grabbing the small food of the small fish and giving excess payments to the big fish.”…Y.Sunita Chowdhary

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