Kollywood's flip side

While we are sitting here and judging a film’s aesthetic sense, there is a producer there waiting to give back his ‘Kandu Vaddi’ to the financier. Kollywood’s historical trend of suicides has just taken a new form over the last few years. Alongwith several heroines and a multitude of support actresses (‘extras’, as they are badly named), producers are joining the suicidal attempts. Before Mani Ratnam’s brother G. Venkateswaran it was another producer (whose name I comfortably forgot). With Khaja Mohideen (Roja Combines) attempting for a suicide, the issue has attained alarming levels of importance in kollywood.

The aesthetic sense of a film is considered to be the last words in cinema business, atleast with the majority of kollywood. There are many other widely discussed aspects of cinema business which we audience tend to overlook as we compare kollywood cinema with bollywood and kollywood. The production and post-prodcution costs are something that every film producer incurs. Also like Bollywood and Hollywood, we do have a good amount of highly/overly paid super stars, universal heroes, ultimate stars, supreme stars, illaya thalapathis and vaigai puyals, all flapping their wings to fly high on the market rates. Their price tags are just so high that they must be having an internal guilt for the rest of the life. With this extra component, the film’s cost shoots up badly.

The argument usually from the star actors’ camp is that their names sell the movie even before the movie is shot. Why shouldn’t they be looking for a considerable share of profit which the producer is going to pocket ? So as the vicious circle progresses in every cinema industry, we at kollywood are attaining the multiplexes era much later than bollywood. Infact, it is still building up. So what’s wrong with multiplexes. the multiplxes are nothing but a hole in the audience pocket. The vicious circle is like this – actors hike his rates – producer pays him the rate he asks to get his dates – the movie’s total cost shoots up – if hit – producer bags a hugesum of fortune – if failed(as in most case) – producer ends up paying hefty interests to financier – finally attempts to kick-the-bucket. The point to note here is that the actor who gives three failure movies in a row would still stay for another two or three movies because they were booked earlier to the current movie’s failure or the producer’s flock him because of the blame game he plays.

All that aside, these costs, ends up in our pockets. These multiplexes start charging a 100 plus for every damned movie and the ‘rasikan’ is left to either buy the ticket for a three digit value or run away to evening bazaar to get his hands on the duplicate VCD. The producers instead of blaming the STARS for all these, should take a collective decision of not paying hefty sum to the actors(which at many a case wouldn’t happen) or should stop producing movies with stars(which also wouldn’t happen). I think more than the producers it’s in the hands of directors who can influence a producer by not going for a star and rather getting a new artist for his movie. This also couldn’t be done by many directors except the star directors. Imagine if only Anniyan was made at 2 crores, with all the hit that they claim it is, Anniyan would have earned enormous profits.

Looks like after Kamal and Khaja Mohideen’s meeting the issue is resolved and Kamal is getting back Hunt and Play. But I should pretty much stop rambling here because I’m sure that none of what is said above would happen. Even if they happen they wouldn’t have a Tsunami effect. After all, the only wish is to relish good kollywood movies and as we have seen with an array of examples like Mullum Malarum / Sandhya Raagam / Mahanadhi / Anbe Sivam that good movies needn’t be a costly venture.

31 thoughts on “Kollywood's flip side

  1. “Cost cutting” needed!! Why not layoff certain actors.. some have become so old and still trying to do roles of their lover-boy days…

  2. After you left for Seattle such posts have become sporadic. It is your natural sarcasm that makes me come back here. Back to form….good for u.

  3. Wish Shankar reads this post.
    I think maximum expenses goes in songs!!
    Anniyan paatuku ellam ekkachakka selavu. Andankaaka song could have been made at a less cost. Kandippa same impact would have been there!

  4. I happen to read Kalipuli S. Dhanu’s interview sometime back after his Alavandan flop. I came to a conclusion from then that Kamal Hasan is a “rathakkaatteri” sucking blood from producers. He doen’t behove of his stature, i felt. Khaja Moideen episode exposed him. HE IS A SADIST.

  5. LS, i completely agree with what you said, it is the highly paid heroes who are to be blamed. But as you mentioned it is mainly the directors who have to come up with good scripts that doesn’t need a saleable hero to become a hit. Autograph is a nice example for how a superhit can be made in shoe-string budget if he has a good script.

  6. at least with Kamal…we know we get the oddball quality movie that infact benefits the stature of tamil cinema…what say of people like Vijaikanth that just stay in the industry to further their political lives and end up imposing untold torture and suffering to the movie going public by just appearing on the screen…

    then of course…the 1-3 movie wonders like dhanush…that was reportedly asking in the range of 1.5 crores…..then we have Repeated failures from (Gaali)Thalai Ajit…

    The actual problem touches several levels…the megalomania of the Heroes not withstanding..it is the hero-worship lame-makkal are prone to…no sooner does a guy give us the loner hit…than confer him with a title…setup mandrams for him…and start celebrating his life like he were the next reincarnation of Rajnisatva…This ends up boosting egos and ego-prices of the stars…the producers end up taking the gamble and signing these (p)oker faced morons and then the inevitable happens…

    Honestly, I feel, if some producer indeed “attempts” suicide and ends up surviving the attempt…there should be instruments in our law that lets someone(fans??) put an end to their misery and life once and for all…that will give them a chance to make their peace at least…Else, they end up surviving to give us many more movies like Sudesi/paradesi in the end…

  7. Also like Bollywood and Hollywood, we do have a good amount of highly/overly paid super stars, universal heroes, ultimate stars, supreme stars, illaya thalapathis and vaigai puyals, all flapping their wings to fly high on the market rates.
    Very true! But these producers pay them huge sums hoping the movie to become big hits (which when a Cheran is cast might, in all probability, not be recovered)… Its much similar to gam’bling. Put ur money on the worthy horse.
    Finally, its the audience which endorses a movie coz it stars the superstar or universal hero [something tells me the latter is a complete myth considering the track record ;)] or other stars. Good scripts triggering a hit is, with all due respects, a freaky occurrence.
    Agreed, there is no direct formula to make a film a hit. But if anything comes close in tamil cinema, its the cast.
    I would say the producers can make small movies and small profits and be content with it.
    Yeah, no single step is gonna change this system, anyways..

  8. Hey LG,
    This is wrt to you blaming the actors of Kodambakkam. Cho Ramaswamy had in the late 1970’s written an article as to how most producers of that time were so disorganised and lacked integrity. Cho claims that improper planning and mismanagement were the major reasons for most producers losing money. And he goes on to give the example of Muktha Brothers as a case of successful producers and he gives as reason their integrity, honesty andplanning management for their reasonable success and limited losses.
    Now one might claim that was in the 1970’s. The money eaters were yet to come. But i think Cho’s arguements are quite valid even now.

    I personally believe the root cause of all this evil is that guys in Kodamabakkam choose to look at Hollywood as the standard, without realsing that Hollywood is more noise than music.Even the public have been brainwashed to believe that. We even choose to call the Kodambakkam industry Kollywood. How sickeningly unimaginative.
    The best movies come from Europe, Cuba, Iran, Japan.And more often than not they are made economically on a shoestring budget.
    Things are not going to change for the better unless we start looking (if we do need to look somewhere. I could argue on that.)
    Europeward.

  9. Lets not be kidding ourselves. Everybody is in the business to make money. How can anybody expect the stars to be any different? Even if they ask 1/3rd of the whole budget as their salary, producers are lining up in front of their houses. Obviosly, coz’ they belive that there is still money that can be made of the stars. Now, if they fail, they have no right to blame the star, coz’ its not the stars, but rather the producers who are lining up.

    the root of all problem is the above mentioned ‘producer in actors house’ line up. They w’d go to a star, give the advance and just say ‘lets do a movie sir’, and return home. So for a director, the only place to find both the money for his film and the cast is the actors house. So they form a directors line up. They go in and tell their story to the star, and the star has his assistants to make corrections to the story (heck, even change the story) and cast to suit his “image” and “likings (you know)”. So the script is changed from good to crappy. The director has to say ‘yes’, coz’ the money is with the star right now (as the producer has given the advance by saying ‘lets do a movie, sir). Thinking back on the whole scenario from the actors shoes, why w’d anybody bend from that strong position? Nobody w’d reduce their price. Why should they?

    Now imagine if the line-ups are in the producers house (as they sh’d be) or in the directors house? Now the whole scenario changes. Now you can make either ‘according to the budget’ movies or ‘accoring to the script’ movies.

  10. i think Directors like Shankar spend too much of money, simply for the sake of spending. Imagine the case if the movie was not a hit, and the movie was not paying back. I think Oscar Ravichandran would be unhappily executing his backup plans (if any).

    Directors shouldnt think of putting stars in a movie. They should think of making stars from a movie. Bala didnt want his producer to cast Kamalhaasan (may be due to various other reasons). But he could make a star out of Vikram. It is possible with every director.

    The director should think they produce the movie. And the mistake is on the producer too. The producer should not be blind on hearing a touching story, and begin to fund it.

  11. We can’t blame one or two ppl LG.ALL r responsible. Producer – queuing up,Director – who makes movie with only top stars,top technicians and more importantly ppl who blindly go for movies of a big star.Now a days media gives a ample amt of reports to judge a movie.Its just a common sense to decide on what movie to see,whom to encourage etc.,

  12. imo, i think one of the solutions to cut down the star supremacy would b to empower the producer.

    In bollywood, powerfull producers like karan johar, subash ghai, ram gopal varma after having established their clout in filmdom with successfull directorial ventures are now putting in money to produce movies on small budget inorder to encourage talented directors& technicians. Actors r ready to cut down their price to b a part of these projects ‘coz of the powerfull names associated with the movie & also to b a part of a good movie.
    Johar who spends millions &millions 4 his own movies as a director, spent peanuts (comparitively) to produce kal ho na ho, with a new director. Kareena kapoor was considered 4 the female lead, but she backed out ‘coz she wasnt geting her market price. But it was her loss, ‘coz a more bankable preity zinta stepped in & agreed 2 work 4 lesser money.
    So the producer should built up his clout & reputation such that the actors should b vying to work with them & not vice versa.

  13. Kishore, Cost cutting , everywhere needed.

    Laks, Thanks for that criticism. i take that.

    Prabhu, True. Andangkaaka is just a waste of money.

    Raj, Partly true. Partly untrue.

    Suresh, BTW you said LS instead of LG.

  14. the key to remember is demand and supply! why blame the actor or actress who have made their price clear at the beginning?? why not place the blame at the producer’s door who despite being fully aware of the price tag associated with stars and his own personal finances is willing to sign them up for his new movie ventures??

    didn’t khaja moindeen know before itself what kamal’s asking price was?? it is universal knowledge what kamal asks for a movie. no one asked khaja moindeen to agree to produce this movie if he could not afford it. it is convenient to blame the stars who ask for what they think is their worth.

    the same dhanu who praised kamal to glory and proudly stated that he told kamal he will not put a price tag or limit on the movie budget and who gave glowing interviews on how he built an air conditioned set to shoot a single song etc, sang a different tune when the movie flopped! he would have continued to keep praising kamal if the movie had been a hit! and very conveniently he absolved himself of any finance related issues and placed it at kamal’s door when he should be the one balancing the budget! similarly, he was all smiles about gautam menon after the runaway success of kakha kakha but during the making of it, left it without appropriate finances to complete it (as reported).

    the truth is that these producers are reluctant to take a risk despite being in a field full of inherent risks and thereby, are willing to borrow finance at exorbitant rates just in order to produce a “safe” movie! so if you want to look at the root cause of this problem, the answer lies with the each producer’s business acumen and appetite for risk as opposed to focussing on easy targets such as the fees asked by the actors/actresses.

    katz

  15. Hi,

    The bottom-line is this:cinema is an outlet channel for the illegal/black money made by the producers/financiers.Think why would anyone invest in a business that hardly has a success-rate of 1%!

    Star-actors & directors use that to massage their egos & satisfy their financial and creative needs.
    So, they can get away “polishing” products infinitely (like what Kamal does to ‘VV’)and making comments (like Madhavan did this week).

    The pity is that the money isn’t going towards improving the quality of cinema. Why can’t a producer fund “elevative flops” like ‘Hey Ram’, rather than 10s of disasters like Neranja Manasu, Chatrapathi,Jana,etc.etc……??

    Despite all the talk…the show will go on…..!!!

    Cheers

  16. Guru, the producer walks into making a movie with his eyes open. A movie like Autograph which had no stars was a massive hit. My point is someone who doesn’t understand and appreciate cinema should not be in the movie business. Most producers stop at funding the movie (I guess). They should be more proactive and consult with the director on what kind of a movie they want to make. And, producers should stop giving the ‘that’s what people want’ excuse. People dont know what they want from a movie; they don’t care, as long as it appeals to their sensibilites and they are able to relate.
    Only when we have informed people making movies will we have better movies. My friend is a victim of the Kandhu Vaddi lenders. He somehow escaped from their clutches. I can imagine the plight of the producer that borrows crores!

  17. Mutrupulli, Agree with the bad naming of kollywood in comparison to hollywood. but its just a naming. i don’t think we can even think of comparing ourselves to hollywood movies, for good and for bad.

    we are still making musicals like what hollywood was doing in 60’s. maybe the naming was a little attractive and hence it stuck.

  18. Keerthi, It’s true what say on Shankar. But more than the spending itself most times it’s wrongly advertised as 20 crores being spent on a movie. i don’t see anything for 20 crores in boys and in anniyan. Guess its all uttalakkadi.

    Catch Arun, Nice catch. Thanks for the pointer.

    Katz, Yep. Dhanu was full of praises for Kamal and he turned his back later. But you can’t say its only producers fault. like actors they also want to make money. so they fall a prey to actors, sometimes.

  19. Suman, The thing is that we have a cliche that the bet on winning horses. so the producer, even after keeping his eyes open has to book a super hero to get his movie going. this goes on.

    But it’s true that behind the scenes te kandu vaddi is going on in full throttle. guess independent movies are only the way out.

  20. Right said katz!

    BTW, LG did you that Khaja categorically denied that Kamal or “Prey and Play” had nothing to do with his suicide attempt?And he did this not once but twice, once before the press and once in Jaya TV.

  21. Oops,
    [quote] categorically denied that Kamal or “Prey and Play” had nothing to do
    [/quote]
    Read that as “categorically denied that Kamal or “Prey and Play” had anything to do….”

  22. bala, i am not blaming kamal her at all. why should i. at the sametime i haven’t become so dull to believe everything thats being said on TV. Would you ?

  23. LG,
    The naming of the industry is just one part of my point. My point is why are we even looking at Hollywood. The movies that Hollywood makes are usually far below the world standards. True they make technologically more( the most) advanced movies. But that is it. The best movies come not from Hollywood. So why are we even looking at them. And even when we do, we do not seem to be inspired by the best they have to offer.
    As long as we are going to get inpsired only by Matrix and the other techno-gimmicky films, our movies will remain the same “big budget content less hyped up disasters”.

  24. guru,

    no doubt producers want to make money too! but i dont agree that producers fall prey to actors. i think they fall prey to their own greed for money!

    actors have their own brand equity which they sell at the price they think that brand equity should sell for. if one cannot afford to buy a branded pair of jeans for $120, then they should simply stick to the Rs. 1000 newport jeans they can afford! you cannot blame the brand for selling their product at $120 for i am sure they will be buyers clamouring for it. you can only blame the buyer who knowingly writes away his whole paycheck to buy that one pair of jeans.

    when are we going to let people take responsibilities for the decisions they make in their lives instead of simply letting them play the blame game for all their failures?? when has one producer ever stood up and said, i made a mistake in miscalculating my appetite for risk and the management of my finances??? nope, all of them point their fingers at convenient scapegoats as if they were extorted at gun point to fork out the money and borrow likewise at exorbitant rates! this is one of the reasons why hollywood is built on a studio system instead of individual producers, for that way the risk can be spread across other areas, making it more palatable!

    katz

  25. Hi Katz,

    Well it’s not just about managing finance & the associated risk…there’s operations mgmt as well. When Kaaja might have willingly offered whatever he did to Kamal for ‘VV’ what about the commitment from the actor’s side to finish it on time??

    Without getting specific (as we don’t know the facts)-from the actors’ side,there needs to be empathy for producers- to finish a project in time,for the salary they receive.This’s is clearly lacking in the case of most of the star-actors. I think the ONLY exception was Sivaji Ganesan!!!

    Yes, I agree Tamil cinema’s best times were also when the studio-system prevailed!

    Cheers
    Carnatakam

  26. Pity kaja moideen. i wish he doesn’t attempt the same after the VV’S movie release.

    Verdict already clear from the movie stills and happenings .

    more over kamal’s last hit was several years (not less than 10 years) back.

    they can better wind up the movie at this stage after all this nonsense.

  27. Greed is the mother of all these issues.

    Cinema.., is being seen as the medium to earn quick money! too much of unregulated/black money operates. guess, you guys wld have read the interview given by one of the “financiers”. He clearly stated everybody knew the interest rate. It was NOT a secret or as if its being shown on
    movies.. like getting signature in white paper! c’on most of these producers are educated! and hv good experience.

    I was thinking of an option like ESOPs to s/w dudes. Producer/or any one pays money, gets a % of
    profit. Actors get 10% or wotever.(apart from a
    standard upfront reasonable payment) I guess it
    can be shared with other technicians too. Thus,
    it can be corporatised! I guess so. 🙂 Everybody
    gets their share of decent money, and a share from
    profit!!

  28. Raghu wrote:more over kamal’s last hit was several years (not less than 10 years) back.

    Raghu,
    where do you live???? Timbuktu, Xanadu or the place they call Utopia??
    Lose your illusions baby……….

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