The number of films released by Sandalwood has touched a record high this year. Vedanth examines whether this acceleration is good or bad for the industry and the filmgoer.
Sandalwood has created many records in the past. Some of them include a scene being shot underground (Mutthina Hara) or a film running in multiplexes for one year (Mungaaru Male was the first film in world to run one year in a multiplex) or a song being shot in slow motion (Baare Baare song from Naagarahavu film). This year, Sandalwood has created another record - There have been a record number of releases. But this record has created a problem of plenty for stakeholders in the film industry.
Last month on August 10, Kannada film industry created a record when ten Kannada films were released on the same day. In these, three films got very good reviews as well. However, at the box office the film failed!! With so many films releasing every week, audience are spoilt for choice and the films must have a USP to attract movie goers.
From January to August, nearly 150 films have been released! But quantity does not spell quality. The success rate has gone down to less than 8 percent. Naturally only the film goer is the beneficiary as he is spoilt for choice. The benefits are not flowing back to the producers as the competition is fierce.
Industry sources say that one of the main reasons for this development is that no big starer has been released. This year, the only big star who had a release was Shivarajkumar in form of “Tagaru”. No films of other big stars have been released. All the big starrer films like “The Villain”, “Muniratna Kurukshetra”, “Avane Srimannarayana”, “KGF” and Natasoawabhowma” are expected to release in last quarter of the year. Probably this prompted the release of all small budget films in the first half of this year. Most have done barely enough at the box office.
Commenting on this, Supreeth, trade analyst said, “It is a misconception that a small films fails when a big star film releases. We have seen in the past many small films have done wonders when it releases along with big star films. If the content of the film is backed by good marketing, the audience will surely come to theatres to watch the film. When we see so many releases like this in a week, it is not helping anyone. The producers of the film are digging their own grave by doing so.”
The audience is a confused lot with so many releases. With so many options for entertainment available today, people going to watch film in theatre is a big thing today. And now with so many releases, they are getting more confused. Dheeraj, a film buff said, “I am a huge film buff. I watch films of all languages. But with so many releases now, I am getting confused as to which film to watch. I read the reviews before catching small budget films. But now even if reviews are good, I end up getting confused as to which film to watch. Today watching a film has become a costly affair, so I think twice before I spend money to buy a ticket. I prefer to watch films on YouTube, Hotstar, Amazon Prime and Netflix.”
Every year, across all film industries, we see many films releasing. But the sad thing happening in Sandalwood is that even good films are failing at the box office, due to huge rush of release. Sajjan, Kannada film director commented on this trend. “It is very bad. So many releases are just causing problems to the film industry. People are not at all coming to theatres to watch films. I am seeing films being removed after a day, as there is no audience at all. Many good content films have failed at the box office. Even though some of these films have been promoted well, audiences are not coming to the theatres, due to various reasons. I hope this phase goes away as soon as possible, as the Kannada film audiences are known to back good content films irrespective of stars being part of it.”
This year, we have seen good films like “Loud Speaker”, “Sankashtakara Ganapathi” and “Aa Karaala Ratri” not doing as well as expected, due to the flow of releases. Another major factor which is causing films to under-perform is number of screens here. “The number of screens in Karnataka is less compared to that of Andhra Pradesh as well as Tamil Nadu. They have more screens hence they can cater to more films. But that is not the case here. Along with that, in Karnataka, films of other languages also have a grand release, which results in Kannada films getting less screens. Normally multiplexes give more preference to non-Kannada films. Even a big star film in Kannada does not get the desired no of shows in multiplexes. The situation is the worst for small films, as they are given odd show timings. All these adding salt to the wounds of the film industry,” Supreeth said.
Every problem has a solution. Even this problem can surely be solved. The best solution for this would be a screening committee. A screening committee should be formed, which will limit the release of Kannada films to a set number every week. With this, we can see healthy number of films released every week and all films will be able to get justice. A few years back, the Karnataka Film Chamber had planned to start a screening committee. But a few big production houses were said to be against this, as they would not get their desired release dates. A few vested interests are creating big problems for Sandalwood as a whole. It is high time an action plan is formed to solve the problems.
Even though we see the many negative effects of too many releases, we must see the positives too. Sunil, a journalist opines that,” If so many films are releasing, it is benefiting all the people who work in the film. Many people are getting paid, and this way it is helping thousands of people. Stars are being made. Technicians are getting noticed irrespective of the fate of the film. More and more films are giving more opportunities to the people. I agree producers are suffering losses, but for most of them, it is a business. Profit and loss is common in business. And luckily most of the producers are realtors or politicians, who do not suffer much, when a film fails. All said and done, ideally not more than three to four films should release every week.”
With so much hoopla surrounding the number of releases, let us wait for this quarter to end to see the number of films released this year. We cannot stop a film from being released, but we can surely make a good film a hit. We hope to see more box office successes in the last quarter of this year.
The author is www.newskarnataka.com’s Sandalwood insider.