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Telugu film industry to bear the brunt of Karnataka ban

K.V. Kurmanath

Hyderabad , Aug. 20

THE Telugu film industry is in for a big jolt with the ban on direct release of non-Kannada films in Karnataka coming into force last Friday.

The ban, announced by the Karnataka Film Producers Association and some other local groups, bars release of non-Kannada films for seven weeks after their release in their respective languages. The decision has the backing of thespian Rajkumar, whose word carries a lot of weight in the film industry there.

The fact that Karnataka alone constitutes 60-70 per cent of the non-AP market of Telugu films shows the importance of the territory for the Telugu industry.

With films worth nearly Rs 50-crore slated for release in the next few weeks, the Telugu industry is worried about the probable fallout of the ban.

The ban, a producer argued, was a double blow. "If a film gets a flop talk in the home market, there will be no takers for that movie. If it is a hit, the market will be flooded by piracy CDs by the time the film is ripe for release after the seven-week ban. We are damned either way," he said.

Worried, the AP Film Chamber of Commerce (APFCC) has begun efforts to find a solution. "We wrote to the Karnakata Chief Minister, our counterpart there and Mr Rajkumar, asking them to make efforts to lift the ban," Mr C. Kalyan, Honorary Secretary of APFCC, told Business Line.

Films starring Telugu actors such as Chiranjeevi, Balakrishna, Nagarjuna and Pawan Kalyan record huge openings, sometimes collecting far more than the local releases. Non-Kannada films are released directly in Karnataka due to the age-old ban on dubbing films in the State.

Chiranjeevi-starrer Shankardada MBBS and his brother Pawan Kalyan-starrer Gudumba Shankar, both big budget films, are up for release.

"Big films are usually sold for more than Rs 1 crore for the Bangalore market alone," a source in the industry said. He said Samba that figured Junior NTR was sold for Rs 90 lakh.

Mr Tammareddy Bharadwaja, a senior producer and President of AP Film Employees' Federation, said the ban would definitely hit the Telugu industry.

"The industry is already crippled by a variety of problems. The audio and overseas markets have already been on the decline. Karnataka comprises nearly 60-70 per cent of non-AP market for Telugu films. If this goes, it will be a major drain on revenues," he said.

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