Coronavirus brings Kannada film industry to its knees

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The lockdown in the wake ofthe coronavirus pandemic has turned out to be a deeply painful story for the Kannada film industry.

Schedules have gone awry following the stay-at-home curbs and operators in Sandalwood, as the industry is popularly known as, say about 100 films under production are affected.

They include big budget movies- ‘Raja Veera Madakari Nayaka’, ‘Kotigobba 3’, ‘Robert’ and ‘Yuvaratna.’

Noted producer Rockline Venkatesh told P T I that the loss to the industry is to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees.

In addition, it’s a challenge for producers to secure the content of their movies from “piracy and leak” during long periods of time before their release, Venkatesh, who is Secretary of Karnataka Cine Artistes’ Association, said.

A leading distributor said even after the lockdown is lifted and situation returns to normalcy, it remains a big question if investment in film business will pay off at all.

“People don’t have money. We will know the impact when things become normal. Questions many ask if people will return to cinema halls like the way they did before or they prefer to stay away from crowd.”

Venkatesh, who had also produced Rajinikanth-starrer ‘Lingaa’ and co-produced ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ with Salman Khan in the lead role, said it would take at least one to one-and- half years for the industry to be back on its legs.

“That too if the government does hand-holding but if the industry faces a bad hit in terms of income tax and GST and other taxation, 80-90 per cent of the industry will face closure,” he said.

“It does not matter if the Government does not help the industry but they not should trouble us with things like IT and GST,” Venkatesh, who is also a director, distributor and artiste, said.

A top director said people’s “behaviour” towards movies is crucial for the industry’s health in the post lockdown scenario.

“With people likely to shy away from going to malls, cinema theatres because of large gatherings there, it’s going to be a long road to recovery for us”, an industry insider said.

Striking a philosophical tone, Venkatesh said all that people worry now is to save their life and keep good health, adding, amassing money and wealth is the last thing on their mind.

Producers Soorappa Babu and Umesh Banakar, who is also Vice-President of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, told P T I that the industry has taken a huge hit.

Banakar said the loss to the industry due to the lockdown is at least Rs 1,000 crore.

“The coronavirus has affected the entire world. We don’t know what to do; we just have to wait,” Soorappa Babu, producer of Kiccha Sudeep-starrer ‘Kotigobba 3’, said.

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