Rajinikanth's Lingaa Lost Rs 54 Crore: Six Months Later, Producer Coughs up Rs 6 Crore Compensation
How much money did Rajinikanth's last outing Lingaa lose for distributors and theatre owners who invested heavily in it? A whopping Rs 54 crore, according to Rajini's close confidante and official mediator Tirupur M Subramaniam.
"When the issue was at it's peak, I examined the account statements from all the distributors in Tamil Nadu and found that their loss declared at Rs 33.5 crore was more or less correct. When I told producer Rockline Venkatesh about it, he informed me that distributors from Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala and overseas markets had been calling him and the film had lost an additional Rs 20 crore," he said, explaining how the issue has wound it's way over the last six months.
That isn't the worst part. After having agreed to compensate distributors for their losses in January itself, producer Rockline Venkatesh has only paid Rs 6.70 crore over the last 6 months, because he, "hasn't had the money." After plenty of haggling, Subramaniam had convinced Rockline Venkatesh to part with Rs 12.5 crore as compensation, but only half the money has been handed over till date.
A well placed source even revealed to Express that the money given had been in cash, causing a lot of worry for the Tamil Film Producers Council chief Kalipuli S Thanu, who had co-mediated the settlement. "We have settled the money to distributors in Madurai, Tirunelveli, Chengalpet and Tiruchy so far. The remaining Rs 5.8 crore is expected by this week end and will be settled to distributors in Coimbatore, North and South Arcot, Chennai and Salem," assured Subramaniam.
Venkatesh was hand picked by Rajinikanth to produce the film, reportedly at a cost in excess of Rs 80 crore and sold to Eros for a little over Rs 100 crore. Sold to distributors for almost twice that amount, the film was released on the 63-year-old Superstar's birthday, December 12.
Panned by reviews and audiences alike, the movie fared so badly that distributors - many of them eager, young first timers - took to the streets demanding payback. Despite Subramaniam and Thanu's attempt to paint this settlement as a consequence of Rajinikanth's kindness, industry sources revealed that the actor wanted the issue settled because of the damage to his image and family.
"Eros was not willing to pay any money back, because they had iron-clad agreements against any liability. But Rajini sir asked Rockline Venkatesh to help these distributors out, just like he asked me to help when the Baba crisis happened, and he relented," said Subramaniam, a veteran distributor and theatre owner, "This is all because of one or two fraudulent distributors like Singaravadivelan and Ruban. After they continued to spread lies about Rajini sir and myself, he asked if he should take legal action, I convinced him not to," Subramaniam told Express.
Loss By Numbers: This is how much has been decided as compensation for distributors across TN, from the Rs 12.5 crore promised by Rockline Venkatesh
Madurai - Rs 1.40 crore Nellai - Rs 80 lakh Tiruchy - Rs 1.40 crore Chengalpet -Rs 2.60 crore Of the Rs 6.70 crore received, Rs 44 lakh remains Rs 5.80 crore has to come from Rockline Venkatesh North and South Arcot - not yet settled Salem and Chennai City - Vendhar Movies who bought the film for Rs 67 crore - not yet settled