No takers for clean films, rues Rama Raju

Chennai, July 14 (IANS) Debutant director Rama Raju's Telugu drama "Mallela Theeram Lo Sirimalle Puvvu" (MTLSP) couldn't have a big release and he says only films that are commercially satisfying will find takers, not a clean film like his.

"Mallela Theeram Lo Sirimalle Puvvu", which released July 5, managed to find only four to five screens.

On the same day, Telugu dubbed version of Tamil film "Singam 2" released in over 50 screens in Andhra Pradesh (AP). The film reportedly minted over Rs.3 crore in the opening weekend in the state.

"I'm not against dubbed films being released in AP, but how come a straight Telugu film is not given the due importance. Distributors turned down my film because I made a clean film. They don't want to promote a clean film and instead choose films that are highly commercial," Raju told IANS.

"Producer and distributors force you to spice up your film with songs, dance and some skin show. Its not like audiences don't want to see good films, but sadly cinema is more or less a business of money. People want to earn profits on their investment and are least bothered about the films being made," he added.

Raju's MTLSP, which released in fewer screens at odd hours, got thumbs up from critics. One of the critics called the film "fresh and dignified".

"My film was released in small theatres that are usually flocked by masses. It was being screened at odd hours. My film is a family drama and it needs multiplex audiences to appreciate its creativity, but except one multiplex, rest turned me down," he said.

Didn't you try to sell your film to any distributor?

"Nobody wants to buy it because it's a clean film. They told me that they couldn't even break even with a film like this, let alone earn profits. I want industry to respect good films. This is why we don't have an Anurag Kashyap in Telugu cinema," said Raju, who faced similar situation while trying to sell satellite rights of his film.

"I thought I could make some money through satellite rights. But sadly, the situation was worse. Even for television screening, a film should comply with commercial requirements, which unfortunately my film didn't meet. I was being paid much less than what I had originally anticipated," he said.

Raju doesn't expect any changes in the system, but is happy that word of mouth publicity is helping his movie.

"Cinema and politics in Indian can't be changed. We can only debate about it. I wish all films are treated equally and are not divided on the basis of budget and cast. Those who watched my film, spoke about it and that's why it's still running in the second week," he added.

Why do you think Telugu films never go to any international film festivals?

"Because most of our good films never come out and even if they do, hardly anyone get to see them. I understand the economics of the film industry, but that doesn't mean you discard good films and back films that can earn money," said Raju.

Asked if he will continue making clean films, he said: "This has been a good experience for me. I will continue making films, but I think I will need to spice it up because I don't see change happening. I won't make it commercial though."

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