Covid-19 casts its shadow on Telugu cinema in 2021

Covid-19 casts its shadow on Telugu cinema in 2021; green shoots visible towards the end

Films such as 'Akhanda' and 'Pushpa' did well at the box office but the industry suffered losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic

Balakrishna's 'Akhanda' and Allu Arjun's 'Pushpa' did well at the box office. Credit: IMDb/IMDb

Like several other sectors, the Telugu film industry also suffered a loss during 2021 both in terms of talent and revenues after passing through tough times of Covid-19 pandemic even as it saw green shoots at the end of the year. Though the magnitude of the loss is not as big as that of in 2020, the megabucks industry is still limping back to normal.

Award-winning song writer Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry passed away due to illness. Also, Sivashankar Master, a dance choreographer who worked for several films in various languages succumbed to coronavirus in November. The void left by these legends cannot be filled.

Shoots of many films including Baahubali maker SS Rajamouli's multi-starrer RRR, had to be suspended for several days. The Ram Charan and Junior NTR starring movie is scheduled to release on January 7. The movie team is busy promoting the flick that has generated considerable buzz among the filmbuffs.

Similarly, Prabhas-starrer Radhe Shyam is also slated for a 2022 release. Balakrishna's movie Akhanda also was released during the year.

The year also witnessed the release of Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan's movie Vakeel Saab in theatres, his first silver screen venture after his poll debacle in 2019. The movie did well well at the box-offices. Besides Vakeel Saab, several movies such as Krack, Konda Polam and Pushpa which were released in theatres did well at the box-office, lifting the hopes of the industry.

Big budget movies like Pushpa and Akhanda released in December. While the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh government is trying to control theatre ticket rates, its counterpart in Telangana on the other hand generously enhanced the prices giving solace to the ailing industry. Various organisations belonging to the film industry are approaching the AP government for a dialogue on the issue.

C Kalyan, Chairman of the Telugu Film Producer Council said the Rs 2000 crore industry suffered huge losses due to the pandemic both in 2020 and 2021 and it will take time to recover. According to him, the industry which usually witnesses the release of about 250 movies annually saw only about 40 films this year. He admitted to the fact that people shifted to TVs and OTT platforms for entertainment.

He, however, was confident that the majority of them will come back once the situation becomes normal. "People cannot afford to miss the theatrical experience. Whoever can afford they may watch films on OTT platforms, but they cannot replace theatres," Kalyan told PTI.

He said most of the producers had to stop the shoot due to COVID-19 restrictions which resulted in delay of the production and subsequent release of movies. While the movie industry is suffering from revenue losses, the OTT platforms, on the other hand, are brimming with new subscriptions indicating the shift in the trend. As there are restrictions, small producers prefer to release their movies on OTT platforms owing to financial pressures, an industry expert said.

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