December 19, 2011 4:00:59 am
When Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee laid the foundation stone for revamping the Technicians Studio at the cost of Rs 18 crore earlier this week,the mood in the Tollywood was uplifting. But concerns remain about the fate of the project as well as how much it would be productive for the local film industry.
In 2009,Banerjee,then the countrys Railways Minister,had announced the setting up of a Film City in Howrah on a 22-acre railway plot. Two years later,Banerjee after becoming the chief minister of the state announced that a 110-bigha plot in Uttarpara will house the film city. The project,effectively,hasnt taken off yet.
The proposed revamp of Technicians Studio 1 is being planned by art director Nitish Roy.
Roy,has to his credit the design of the Ramoji Rao Film City in Hyderabad. The studio will have six air conditioned floors,modern make-up rooms etc. While the revamp is a welcome change in the industry,concerns about shooting costs have sprung up. Several commercial Bengali films are made on shoe-string budgets. And it is these small budget films,which are heavily dependent on these studios. We are hoping that the pricing issue too is addressed properly, said a source in Tollwyood.
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In a report published by FICCI and Deloitte on the Bengali entertainment industry,it has been found that films like Dui Prithibi,Josh and Amanush topped the box office charts. The films grossed Rs 6.5 crore,Rs 5 crore and Rs 4.5 crore respectively. Dui Prithibi,the highest grosser of last year,interestingly also rode on its slickly shot songs,some of which were shot in location like Venice and Greece. We welcome new ideas and fresh talent, said Mahendra Soni,director of Sree Venkatesh Films at the FICCI meet. Therefore,foreign locales have become a mainstay of the bigger budget Bengali commercial films. The producers of films such as these dont worry a lot about film locations. They are willing to invest to make the films look slicker, said the source. Contemporary Bengali films,according to the report,are mostly made on a budget of Rs 50 lakh to Rs 2 crore. It is the lower budget films,which have an audience mostly outside Kolkata,that will be hit by the pricing.
However,if theres one thing that binds the bigger budget commercial films,like the ones produced by Shree Venkatesh and the smaller ones,it is the suburban and rural audience. The biggest stumbling block here is not production,but distribution and screening. Arijit Dutta,director of Priya Entertainment,which owns Priya,Star and also produces films says that at first attention has to be turned towards the state of theatres first. While making production easier is important,we have to understand that all the production work will waste if the films cant be screened. The number of single screen theatres,the backbone of commercial Bengali films,across the state has come down from 850 to 340 in the last decade. Where will we show our films if theatres close down, says Dutta.
Single screens typically suffer from inability to technologically upgrade themselves and also increase revenue by hiking ticket prices. The biggest grossers of last year were all commercial hits which ran in single screens and were not multiplex phenomena. No definitive measure has been taken in these areas yet. We hope that the problems are sorted out according to their levels of importance rather than their PR value, said the source on condition of anonymity.
Filmmaker Haranath Chakraborty,a prominent member of pro-Trinamool camp in Tollywood,however welcomes governments move. He points out that the Left government had done next to nothing in its 30-year-tenure.
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