No Kollywood superstars on Kerala channels

Movies of Mohanlal and Mammootty make TV channels poorer by 3.5 crore per movie while Dileep and Prithviraj films ranges from Rs 2.75 to 3 crore.

Come Onam, Malayalis may have to do without the standard filmi fare on television and go back to playing traditional games like Thalappanthukali or Thumbithullal!

For long, it has become a practice, especially in the cities and towns, to sit before the idiot box and spend the festive holidays watching relatively new blockbuster movies of superstars.

However, with the Kerala Television Federation (KTF) announcing its decision not to buy any superstar movies henceforth, citing the enormous amounts charged for satellite rights, this is bound to change.

But if you think the television industry is going to be in tatters without cinema, not all agree with that prognosis.

“Almost 80-90% of the entertainment content in television comes from the film industry and the huge dependence of television on the film industry is pretty evident.

But if KTF doesn’t budge from its decision not to buy superstar movies, it will be the film industry that will suffer,” explains noted actress Praveena, who has straddled both big and small screens.

Speaking about how television keeps the film industry afloat, she points out how it is the previews and trailers of the new releases on TV that help draw the crowds to the theatres.

She says, “Films reach television in the guise of mimicry, comedy skits, and music videos or even in the form of artistes.

Similarly, production, distribution and exhibition of feature films are supported by the television industry. Together, both the media have established their co-existence and financial interdependence over the years. Today, TV helps keep the film industry going.”

The Kerala Television Federation secretary Baby Mathew argues, “Television and film industry should go hand in hand as both heavily depend on each other.

Charging exorbitant rates for the superstar movies has put us in a very difficult situation, that is why we have now decided to stop buying movies that come for anything more than Rs 3 crore.

” As per the KTF, movies of Mohanlal and Mammootty make them poorer by 3.5 crore per movie while Dileep and Prithviraj films ranges from Rs 2.75 to 3 crore.

With the KTF announcing after their recent meeting that the television industry can’t pay the price for the escalating budgets in the film industry, Milan Jaleel, the President of Kerala Film Producers Association, retorts that it is not the film industry but the television industry which actually brought on this crisis.

He says, “With the advent of too many channels in Malayalam, the competition among these channels to secure the satellite rights for superstar movies increased and the satellite right rates suddenly rose from Rs 50 lakh to about Rs 3.5 crore.

” Describing films an indispensable entity for the television industry, Milan says the few television channels who have raised the banner of revolt cannot afford to ignore superstar movies, irrespective of the cost.

He even tips off, “With many channels getting ready to launch, I am sure the rates for the channel rights are going to increase further.” (courtesy: Keerthy Ramachandran & Deccan Chronicle)

Kannada people vs the Kannada film lobby??

The Kannada media industry now wants no movies/shows to be dubbed in Kannada. There are statements and articles by Kannada media personalities protesting against dubbed movies and even TV shows like Aamir Khan‘s Satyameva Jayate. They claim that dubbed movies/shows will eat into their market and strangle the Kannada industry.

It is very easy to raise popular support by claiming it is for the good of Kannada. I’d like to analyse whether such a move would actually benefit the Kannada people or just the pockets of the Kannada film lobby.
The Kannada Film industry through its lobbying over the years enjoys several protectionist measures including subsidies, 100% tax concession, restrictions on the way other language movies release in Karnataka, etc. It is almost an universal law that protected industries always tend to lag in quality, technology and innovation.
Even a Kannada fanatic would be hard pressed to say that better quality movies/entertainment have been produced because of these protectionist regulations. Kannada movies have long stopped entertaining the discerning audience and remain the staple for those cannot access other forms of entertainment. Even an occasional well made movie finds it tough to attract the former due to the morass of bad quality movies it is hidden amongst [every one of them taking a chunk of out of the tax money, mind you].
It shows the declining quality of Kannada movies/shows if people will prefer watching badly lip synced dub versions of other language films and shows. And why should the people of Karnataka not have the option to do so. It is in their interests and rights to gain access to more and better entertainment which their own media industry has failed to satisfy and is always trying to smother.
These protectionist measures supported by a few media gimmicks, goonda tactics against those do not agree and political connections serve only to protect the pockets and interests of the rich dudes who run the industry. They neither benefit the Kannada culture nor the Kannada people. Talibanisation does not benefit anybody except those who preach it.
Deregulating the industry will force the industry players to change and face open competition. Some will go bust but at the same time it will open doors for new players who have the what the audience enjoys.
The release restrictions are being stayed in courts and a recent Supreme Court judgement regarding AP might end the regime of tax concessions. In this age of increasing awareness and increased channels of media consumption, the out-dated barons of the industry face a downward path and are trying to prolong their exit. It is they who are strangling the Kannada media industry. What remains to be seen is, if the Kannada people continue to allow this by actively/passively supporting such short sighted measures and allow the Kannada media industry to roll into the valley of irrelevance. (courtesy: Ajey)

‘cotton for my shroud’ film says, govt.,mncs & media responsible for farmer’s suicide

Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl’s Cotton For My Shroud is an honest and heart-wrenching account of the hapless condition of Vidarbha‘s farmers

The husband-wife duo Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl, armed with a camera and “an iron soul”, set forth to Vidarbha to film the stories of farmer families who had lost their sons, brothers and husbands to suicides due to mounting debts, to render visible the issues of the marginalised small farmer and bring back into focus the forgotten stories of Vidarbha’s farmer suicides.

 “Since 1995, a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide, most of whom were cotton farmers from Vidarbha in Maharashtra,”

inform the filmmakers.

The couple began filming “Cotton For My Shroud” in 2006 when Vidarbha had recorded the highest number of suicides. They were supported in their endeavour by Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, an NGO actively involved in advocacy on farmers’ issues.

The couple hold the government, multinational corporations and even certain sections of the media responsible for the condition of the cotton farmers in Vidarbha.

“The farmers felt betrayed by the government extension agencies that are supposed to guide the farmers, they feel violated by the multinational corporations that are poisoning their land with chemicals, and genetically modified cotton seeds that do not live up to the tall claims made by Monsanto. They have lost respect for the media too for they feel that most of the media has been bought over by powerful politicians and multinationals.”

Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl

"Cotton For My Shroud"'s filmmakers Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl

The suicide of a farmer wasn’t just another statistic for them, but a precious life lost due to faulty government paradigms. It took them almost five-and-a-half years to put the film together. “It was difficult to bury the ghosts and sweep the film under the carpet, as if nothing had ever goaded us to visit Vidarbha. We owed a lot to the people who had opened their hearts and hearths to two outsiders in their moment of grief. We could not betray their trust. As we previewed and digitised the footage, we re-lived the horror that had unfolded before our eyes in 2006,” write the former journalists in an email interview.

In “Cotton…”, the line “If one farmer kills himself, we can call it a suicide. But when a quarter of a million kill themselves, how can the government call it suicide? It is genocide,” reveals that justice delayed is no less a crime. “Torn between aggressive marketing of supposedly ‘better varieties’ of transgenic crops by the State and his traditional wisdom of low-cost and eco-friendly agriculture, the farmer is forced to buy BT cotton, which results in an unending cycle of debt.”

“Cotton…” won the Rajat Kamal for the Best Investigative Film at the 59th National Film Awards. But the government-funded Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), the couple inform, chose not to show it. They had even organised a special screening for parliamentarians at the Constitution Club, for which they had invited the parliamentary standing committees on agriculture and rural development.

“Only Basudev Acharya had attended the screening; the other MPs were too busy to watch it.” Nandan and Kavita faced many daunting challenges while filming “Cotton…”. “The shopkeepers and agents of Monsanto-Mahyco were hostile but could not do much to stop us. The police and the Guardian Minister of Yavatmaal district did their best to stop us from going to film the funeral of Dinesh Gugul at Village Mendoli. He was killed when the police opened fire at the farmers at the Cotton Mandi at Wani, on 6 December 2006. We argued with the police officers, but the seasoned, shrewd police-wallahs sent us to the Mandi where an angry mob of farmers charged at us and almost smashed our camera. We were asked to meet the Guardian Minister at the Circuit House. As soon as we entered the Circuit House, a curfew was clamped at Wani. We finally reached Mendoli, defying the curfew.”

The couple has contacted schools and colleges to screen the film and attempts are being made at translating “Cotton…” into other regional languages. “We are trying to raise some contributions for making the Marathi and Hindi versions of the film to take it to the villages where we filmed. There is a demand for Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Odiya versions as well.” (courtesy: SRAVASTI DATTA & The Hindu)