CHENNAI: The ongoing standoff between Tamil film producers and the digital service providers (DSPs) (which has resulted in an industry-wide strike with no new Tamil films getting a theatrical release from March 1) has seemingly reached the next level with TFPC (Tamil Film Producers council) calling for a complete shutdown from March 16.
This total shutdown would mean that all film-related work will be stalled. There will be no shooting, no post-production work, no film launches, no press meets and no new releases from next Friday, March 16.
This announcement by TPFC comes on the heels of the announcement by TN Theatre Owners Association that all theatres across the State will be shut from March 16, unless the government accedes to their stipulations (regarding licence renewal, local body taxes and maintenance fee). Now, TFPC, for its part, has come up with its own demands.
SR Prabhu, treasurer of TFPC, says that the total industry shutdown is only a logical extension of the ongoing strike. “We need the Visual Print Fees to be waived off completely. We have put forward some additional demands for the benefit of the industry, especially the producers of low-budget films. The producers’ council is meeting on the evening of March 12 (Monday) to discuss the logistics of the shutdown and further course of action. We’ll have full clarity on the issue only after the meet.”
Producer G Dhananjayan, whose maiden film as producer for Creative Entertainers, ‘Mr Chandramouli’, has just entered its pre-production phase, thinks the complete shutdown is the need of the hour, as the industry is in ‘turmoil because of the excessive distribution costs’. “The FICCI Frames report categorically says that the Tamil industry’s market graph is on a downward trend. The main reason attributed for the market plunge is the increased distribution cost. The only way out is to bring down the digital costs. We are not the only people who are affected by the strike. If this helps bring about a permanent solution, these small inconveniences won’t matter,” he adds.
Maapilai Singam-fame director Rajasekhar, who has scheduled the shoot of his untitled film with actor Jeeva in the first week of April, hopes this gets resolved soon. “A permanent resolution is important to the well-being of the industry. If the shutdown continues into April, our shooting has to be postponed. But I am confident that the parties will reach a compromise very soon.”
A compromise is being worked out between producers, DSPs, and theatre owners, as no new releases will mean further trouble. The question now is whether the big summer releases will see the light of day as scheduled.
Tpfc’s six demands
No more Visual Print Fee, which is currently levied by DSPs
Flexible ticket pricing according to scale and season of film release
Online booking charges must be categorically reduced
Computerised ticket booking must be made available in all theatres
Overall business model must be regulated to ensure small films get enough screens for release
Production cost should be regulated