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

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy desires the Telugu movie trade to relocate to Visakhapatnam from Hyderabad. While the sops he has provided are enticing, there’s reluctance within the trade to transfer. Appaji Reddem stories on a dilemma that the trade has confronted as soon as earlier than 

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy desires the Telugu movie trade to relocate to Visakhapatnam from Hyderabad. While the sops he has provided are enticing, there’s reluctance within the trade to transfer. Appaji Reddem stories 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 sense 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 city 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 a long time.

For the trade, that 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 transfer from Madras, the place the trade was born and nurtured, to Hyderabad in united Andhra Pradesh. Back then, it was actor-producer Akkineni Nageswara Rao who was attempting to persuade reluctant producers and administrators to shoot their motion pictures 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 as we speak over the second transfer have reached a fever pitch. On February 10, the State appeared star-struck. Television channels and social media have been awash with photographs and movies because the Chief Minister met Chiranjeevi, Prabhas, Mahesh Babu, S.S. Rajamouli and Koratala Siva, amongst others. Apart from listening to their considerations, 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 comparable to 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 desires to develop equally within the two Telugu-speaking States. But whether or not the trade desires to shift lock, inventory and barrel to Visakhapatnam remains to be unclear.

Baby steps

The journey of the Telugu movie trade started within the Madras Presidency. In 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 Films. He additionally set up a movie studio named Glass Studio, which had a roof made of glass to enable the solar to shine by way of within the days of no electrical energy. Naidu, a native of Machilipatnam in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, had moved to Madras on the age of 18 and had managed to make it large within the movie trade. His audacious concepts quickly changed into actuality. He and his London-educated son, Raghupathi Surya Prakash Naidu, produced a number of movies through the years, together with Bhishma Pratigna (a silent movie), Gajendra Moksham, Mathsyavatharam and Nandanaar.

But the going was powerful. The firm was anticipated to import know-how and compete with European companies within the Indian market. A resolute Naidu swam towards the tide. He made brief movies. He established Esplanade Ten House to exhibit his movies, Gaiety Talkies on Mount Road, Crown Theatre on Mint Street, and Globe Theatre in Parasuwakka, throughout a span of a few years. These theatres exhibited Indian, American and British movies. But within the following years, Naidu confronted extreme monetary points due to intense competitors from the East India Film Company.

Over the following decade, different Telugu-speaking filmmakers additionally pushed the envelope. The first 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 introduced the issues of uneven growth, and Mala Pilla (1938), on the problem 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 basic motion pictures 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 Pictures of Bhanumati Ramakrishna, Prasad Art Pictures of A.V. Subbarao, Annapurna Pictures of D. Madhusudhana Rao, and Prasad Labs of L.V. Prasad have been set up. The trade principally made bilingual motion pictures 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 change when the Madras Legislative Assembly handed the Andhra State Act in 1953, to present 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. Yet, the trade, which had constructed studios and firmly established itself in Madras, didn’t present a eager curiosity in shifting to Hyderabad. But the brand new State of Andhra Pradesh opened up new markets for Telugu movies and the trade quickly noticed a motive to develop. Soon after the primary Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, known as for relocation of the trade, Sarathi Studios was set up in Hyderabad in 1959. Soon, extra administrators and producers adopted go well with. Prominent amongst them was Akkineni Nageswara Rao, who constructed Annapurna Studios in 1976, in an nearly barren stretch of land on the outskirts of Hyderabad. By the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties, besides for Bharani Pictures, all of the manufacturing homes had both moved to Andhra Pradesh or expanded. Hyderabad steadily developed as a hub for Telugu movies.

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

Creative director, producer and author Pavani Prasad Sivalenka, 63, recalled that interval. While the trade produced motion pictures in Madras, enterprise occurred in Andhra Pradesh, he mentioned. Film personalities most popular to keep in Chennai however took lands provided by the Andhra Pradesh authorities. “Some of them shifted, but many of them secured land in Hyderabad for future expansion. There were others who got a second address in Hyderabad but continued to work in Madras. These include S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. Viswanath and Sobhan Babu,” Prasad mentioned. Some 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 Film City, which was inbuilt Hyderabad in 1996. It entered the Guinness World Records because the world’s largest such facility. The built-in movie metropolis and thematic vacation vacation spot enabled small and massive motion pictures to be shot there. Hundreds of motion pictures in Telugu, Hindi, Tamil and English have been made in Ramoji Film City. With units corresponding to forests, gardens, motels, a railway station, an airport, house blocks, mansions and workshops, the movie metropolis emerged as a distinctive vacation spot for movie manufacturing homes from the world over.

The movie metropolis has about 1,200 staff, together with 8,000 brokers. The non-production revenues too are large contemplating the entry ticket worth, which is ₹1,150 per head. Over 15 lakh individuals go to Ramoji Film City yearly. The movie metropolis additionally handles about 400-500 motion pictures each year in numerous Indian languages. On any given day, it has the capability to facilitate 15 shoots. Besides severe manufacturing exercise all year long, the thematic vacation vacation spot is crammed with 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.
| Photo Credit: Mohammed Yousuf

It was within the Nineties that the Telugu movie trade lastly known as Hyderabad its everlasting house. Today, 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. Considering the pan-India attraction of motion pictures 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. In the method 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. However, the proposal didn’t garner a lot curiosity.

Former Andhra Pradesh Film Development Corporation (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 better place for filmmaking than Hyderabad. It has a long association with the film industry. Hundreds of films have been made in the city over the past seven decades. We have identified a 100-acre land around the city where the film industry can develop. Some senior actors had applied for land here, but the efforts did not fructify during the previous government’s rule,” she mentioned. In reality, when the trade moved from Madras, Visakhapatnam was the placement it initially thought of.

Like Naidu, Reddy is now batting for Visakhapatnam as a filmmaking hub. Visakhapatnam, mentioned many, has ample infrastructure to home the trade. Film shoots happen recurrently. Ramanaidu Studios is a totally outfitted studio on a hill prime going through the ocean coast on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam. Over 100 movie shoots annually, small and massive, happen on the 33-acre studio-cum-film metropolis, in accordance to its supervisor Avinash. “Most production houses come here for indoor and outdoor shoots. Most movies made here are in the Telugu language. We also have several filmmakers from Odisha and West Bengal coming here as these States are nearby,” he mentioned. The facility is reportedly enticing for low-budget filmmakers as it’s 50% inexpensive in contrast to amenities in Hyderabad.

There can be a totally developed movie membership, Vizag Film Nagar Cultural Center, which has stayed energetic over the previous few years. The membership intends to develop a residential colony for the movie fraternity in Visakhapatnam. The General Manager of the membership, T.D.S. Hari, mentioned, “We have over 1,200 members in our club. We are waiting for the government to give us more details about its offer of land for the industry. If the decision is delayed, we are prepared to buy land to develop a Film Nagar here.”

But 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 supply of land is unquestionably enticing and can set off a shift from Hyderabad. “This was what happened when the industry moved from Madras. Many in the industry took land and expanded their facilities in Hyderabad. Eventually the ecosystem was built over a period of time. The same is likely to happen in Visakhapatnam. It took a long time to shift to Hyderabad. The shift to Visakhapatnam may also take time,” he mentioned.

Telangana gained’t surrender

What then of Hyderabad movie metropolis? The Telangana authorities seems to be like it is going to 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 quantity of reveals, strikes which can negatively influence the trade, the Telangana authorities has allowed a rise within the worth of tickets and within the quantity of reveals.

During 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 Information Technology Minister, said that the State authorities will do every part it might probably to promote the movie trade. “We will see to it that Hyderabad becomes the national hub of the film industry. We are committed to extending our full support to the industry,” 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 wished the federal government to revoke the Government Order put out on this regard. In December 2021, the Andhra Pradesh authorities had introduced out the Order to prohibit the worth of film tickets and quantity of reveals, arguing that film makers and theatres have been exploiting the widespread man with excessive ticket charges and extra reveals.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Cinematography Minister Perni Venkatramaiah (Nani) mentioned that the federal government would usher in adjustments within the Cinematography Act to introduce on-line film ticketing, restrictions on the quantity of reveals, and caps on the ticket worth to management the exploitation. The State authorities had introduced that it’ll provoke the method by way of the Film Development Corporation.

In response to the trade’s considerations, articulated throughout the February 10 assembly, Reddy proposed to supply a few concessions to movies with large 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 slightly uncomfortably with the sops introduced by the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister. While the federal government says its choice was taken maintaining in thoughts the problem of affordability of leisure for the widespread man, some within the trade see it otherwise. Director Ram Gopal Varma mentioned that “the government, while settling scores with its political rivals, is punishing the entire industry with new ticket prices and restrictions on shows.” Such restrictions, he mentioned, will certainly “impact creative zeal and discourage distributors from investing in quality films that would need big budgets.”

Branding it as “vendetta politics”, director Geeta Krishna mentioned, “I like the Chief Minister’s policies in the manifesto but in my opinion, the government’s decision on ticket pricing is a big blunder.” Such a choice will certainly influence the trade post-COVID-19, he added. There are motion pictures whose whole value would quantity to over ₹5,000 crore ready to be launched any time now. “The recent pan-India movie Pushpa collected over ₹100 crore. The Telugu industry is very important now and is making a big impact across markets in India. Considering the ground situation and potential, it’s important for the Andhra Pradesh government to incentivise the film industry,” he added.

The movie trade desires to see the Andhra authorities stroll the speak on its guarantees. To add to Reddy’s woes, the Andhra Pradesh High Court has ordered the federal government not to transfer the capital from Amaravati. This will seemingly solid a shadow over his Visakhapatnam dream metropolis venture for now.

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