They were known for selling houses to buy visas to get a job in the Middle East. Now the Keralites are selling their precious assets to make movies
Over 100 Malayalam films are made every year, but it is not a cash rich industry. The new producers of Kerala often sell property or borrow money to make films, says a distributor from the southern state.
“The total investment on films last year was Rs.300 crore. And most new producers either borrow money or sell their property. Most of them don’t own a house also,” distributor Mukesh Mehta said here during a session on “Cinemas of India – Malayalam Cinema” at the ongoing Film Bazaar here.
Satellite rights was one way for producers to earn profit, but the trend is coming down, says G. Suresh Kumar, producer and president of Kerala Film Producers Association.
“Around 60 to 70 percent of money spent on a film used to be recovered from satellite. Many producers even earned profits. But the trend came down from last year. Around 125 films are lying without satellite rights because the quality of those films are poor.
“Many filmmakers just take a digital camera and shoot a film so that also affects the quality of the films,” said Kumar, who also shared that approximately 123 films released this year and the figure may go up to 135. But there are various advantages of making films in Kerala.
“We don’t have a big budget like Tamil or Hindi films, but the audience appreciate our films. And we don’t have pirated CDs for Malayali films. The distribution system is also easy in Kerala. There are no restrictions on screening timings also. You can start showing from 3 a.m. and go on the entire day,” said Mehta.
Director Anil Radhakrishnan Menon of “North 24 Kaatham” fame says the audience of his state are “judgemental and critical”.
“They watch everything including Korean films, so they are very critical about films we make. They like what they can relate to. Movies which show reality and not fantasy fiction works for them,” he said.
Producer A.V. Anoop believes that to make Malayalam film industry prosperous, it is important to “look at outside market”.