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Of colossal hits and flops


Two films broke new ground and a few others tasted success while the big stars dabbled in politics.

STORY OF TWO HITS Ram Charan and Kajal Agarwal in `Magadheera'

2009 was one phenomenal year for Telugu cinema. New box office records were created like never before. Before 2009, Pokiri was still the biggest movie so far, having made profits to the tune of about Rs. 40 crore. In 2009, this record was smashed by two films in quick succession. First it was Shyam Prasad Reddy's Arundhati (made on a budget of Rs.15 crore, the film collected Rs. 45 crore), which created a new BO record before falling to S.S. Rajamouli's Magadheera (the Rs. 30 crore film collected more than Rs. 65 crore) in just a matter of few months. These two films, between them collected a profit of Rs. 110 crore, clearly stated the BO potential of Telugu cinema. Apart from these two, the dubbed, 2012 Yugantham (dubbed film the English 2012) turned out to be a super hit.

Money matters

Among the other grossers, Kick (budget: 17 crore. Earnings: Rs. 22 crore.), Ride, E.V.V.'s Bendu Apparao R.M.P, Vamsy's Gopi Gopika Godavari acquired the hit status earning decent profits to the buyers, exhibitors and the producers. Kick, according to industry sources, is believed to have earned profits for everybody except the producer due to over budgeting. Some more films that fell under this category are — Billa, Mahatma and Bumper Officer. These films couldn't sustain the fantastic openings they had. If there are more than hundred plus straight releases, only seven or eight earned profits or got back their investments. The rest were BO duds, speaking of the volume of loss the industry faced. Assuming that about Rs. 4 crore was spent on each film on an average, the total cost of production including the big budgeted ones involved roughly Rs.450 crore. The combined collections of Arundhati, Magadheera and Kick works out to Rs.132 crore and assuming that rest of the hits including the dubbed Yugantham netted a combined Rs. 18 crore profit, the industry's gain comes to Rs. 150 cr. The rest of the movies lost money. Ironically, 2009 is the year of highest grosser for Telugu films as well as a year that brought unprecedented losses.

The decline of superstars

Anushka in ` Arundhati'.

Again, the last quarter of the year saw the bottomline hit by floods in certain areas and also the agitations on the statehood issue that resulted in heavy loss of collections.

Surprisingly, the year saw less of superstars and more films from younger actors. With Chiranjeevi firmly encompassed in politics, there was no releases of films from Nagarjuna, Pawan Kalyan, Mahesh Babu and N.T.R. while Balakrishna's Mithrudu and the Kamal Haasan-Venkatesh starrer Eenadu met with lukewarm response. With his second film ( Magadheera) Ram Charan Tej stated that he had arrived. But another star son, Naga Chaitanya failed to make the mark with his debut film Josh. Directors Chakri Tholeti ( Eenadu remade from A Wednesday) and Chaitanya Dantuluri ( Banam) made a promising debut while Sunil Kumar Reddy's Sontha Vooru won critical acclaim.

Of late, there is a steady increase in revenues from foreign markets. Supreme audio launched its distribution network in the U.S. and released Magadheera with 25 prints, the highest for any Telugu film so far, and made a killing at the box office. There is considerable rise in revenues from Europe, Britain, Australia, Gulf and other countries too, going by the collections of Magadheera and Arundhati.

Film critic Rentala Jayadeva says that “the above two films and Yugantham proved beyond doubt that the audience expects some fabulous, mind blowing experience. Besides grand sets, graphics and special effects, the three films had a storyline that offered something new to viewers. The audience clearly voted out routine stuff. Both Arundhati and Magadheera did not boast of super stars in its cast. The former is a heroine-based subject while the later has a budding young actor in the lead role.” This proves that stars don't matter as much as unique story lines and visual treat. Hope industrywallahs are listening.

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