Telugu film producers Ashok Vallabhaneni and Prasanna Kumar courted controversy recently while speaking at the pre-release event of Petta in Hyderabad. Both of them accused top Telugu filmmakers of unfairly grabbing screens in the Telugu states.
Petta’s Telugu distributor Prasanna made a passionate speech, remarking the reign of ‘theater mafia’ will come to an end soon. He also promised that the Rajinikanth starrer will become a huge success against all odds.
“If a film is good, nobody can stop it. Today the situation is so grave that three or four people are keeping all theaters for their own films. During Pongal, we have enough audience to watch even six or seven movies. But theater mafia is only allowing one or two films in every area,” he alleged without taking names.
Prasanna Kumar even said the chief ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will be approached to intervene in the issue. He added that Rajinikanth’s biggest hit Baasha was also released during Pongal. “Petta will also create history after its release this week,” he promised.
Ashok Vallabhaneni, another distributor of Petta’s Telugu version, in his fiery speech made allegations by taking names. “UV Creations, Allu Aravind and Dil Raju behave as if they were born with theaters. Why are they so afraid to give theaters? If a film is good, the audience will support it. How fair is it to release just one film in hundreds of theaters, while denying screens to good films?” he said, while asking the governments of the Telugu states to take serious action against alleged theater mafia.
The allegations by Ashok and Prasanna have irked many producers of the Telugu film industry. Ace producer Dil Raju said, “The release date for NTR biopic, Vinaya Vidheya Rama and F2 were announced six months ago. The producers of these three movies and distributors have been struggling to find screens. But, the release date of Petta was announced about a month ago. When we have three big original Telugu films releasing here, how is it possible to allot theaters for a film from the neighbouring state. Earlier, the same producers released Nawab and Sarkar (Telugu version). They released Sarkar in both the Telugu states according to their requirements and now they are making unnecessary statements. We have a situation of allotting no theaters to non-Telugu films for this (festival) season. Last year, I faced losses in film distribution. But I am still doing this because of my passion for movies.”
Bunny Vas, the producer of Geetha Govindam and a close associate of producer Allu Aravind, also lashed out at Prasanna. “Prasanna garu, you are speaking with half knowledge and you are testing our patience.”
To cash in on the Sankranti holiday, three big Telugu films have been lined up for release. While NTR: Kathanayakudu will release on January 9, Vinaya Vidheya Rama will open in cinemas on January 11 and F2 will hit the screens on January 12.