This year, with big-ticket releases such as Bharat Ane Nenu, Mahanati, Ragasthalam and Naa Peru Surya, Naa Illu India, one would expect that the Telugu film industry has been making big bucks. But, the reality is startlingly different. Of the 95 Telugu films (including the dubbed ones) that released till June 30, 66 were Tollywood productions. For an industry that churns out a large number of films annually, this number is quite small and the results are not encouraging. The success rate has been a just a little over 10 per cent.
Here’s a half-yearly report of the Telugu films that released this year, excluding Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, which released in the end of June and is performing fairly well at the box office.
Of all the releases, two films turned out to be blockbusters and were critically acclaimed as well. Rangasthalam and Mahanati – period films in completely different genres – proved to be game-changers, not just in terms of content but also for the artistes involved.
For instance, Ram Charan’s Rangasthalam collected over Rs 210 crores worldwide, with a distributor share of around Rs 119 crores. It also became director Sukumar’s first commercially successful venture, after getting critical appreciation for films such as Arya, 100% Love, and Nannaku Prematho.
Nag Ashwin’s Mahanati set the standard for Telugu films in many ways. While the distributor share stands at Rs 42 crores worldwide, this film catapulted its lead actress Keerthy Suresh to stardom. Her performance as yesteryear superstar Savitri was widely appreciated and proved that Telugu films with author-backed roles can also make an impact at the box office. A film with a female lead running for over 50 days in several A centres is not a regular phenomenon for Tollywood.
Apart from films with a big star cast, there were several releases such as Chalo, Tholi Prema and Bhaagmathie which left the trade pundits surprised. Starring Rashmika Mandanna and Naga Shaourya, Chalo gave a boost to Naga Shaourya’s sagging career. A distributor share of around Rs 12 crores gave the film a “superhit” tag and the film’s music album also managed to strike a chord with the audience.
Bhaagmathie was an important film for Anushka Shetty as this was her first outing after the Baahubali juggernaut. Prior to the film’s release, more than her career, her weight gain became a topic of discussion. The film earned a distributor share of Rs 28 crores, making it one of her biggest successes in terms of collection, coming right after Arundhati.
Tholi Prema established Varun Tej as a bankable name – this was his second hit after Fidaa, but the film’s surprise element was Raashi Khanna. The actress is known for her glamourous roles, but Tholi Prema won her a lot of critical appreciation too. This was her first noteworthy performance after her debut in Oohalu Gusagusalade. Moreover, the film, with a distributor share of Rs 24.60 crores, was producer BVSN Prasad’s first big hit in a long time.
Despite being star vehicles, many films failed to make a mark at the Telugu box office. Take, for instance, Agnyaathavaasi. Despite bringing back the successful partnership of actor Pawan Kalyan and director Trivikram, the film was a huge disappointment. Even Allu Arjun’s Naa Peru Surya… wasn’t received well. Officer, Ram Gopal Varma and Nagarjuna’s much-talked-about reunion after over two decades, was panned both by critics and the audience. It only managed to collect Rs 1 crore as distributor share.
Both of Ravi Teja’s films – Touch Chesi Choodu and Nela Ticket – were box office duds, earning a worldwide share of less than Rs 10 crore. With MLA and Naa Nuvve, Kalyan Ram had two back-to-back failures in the same year; this, despite going out of his comfort zone in Naa Nuvve.
Nani’s Krishnarjuna Yuddham and Nithiin’s Chal Mohan Ranga came with a lot of expectations but failed to deliver. Raj Tarun’s Rangula Ratnam turned out to be a complete washout, as was Sai Dharam Tej’s Inttelligent.
Mahesh Babu’s Bharat Ane Nenu collected a distributor share of Rs 95 crores and was an above-average fare as the film was made on a budget of Rs 44 crores. Though the film came as a relief to the actor who had back-to-back flops, it proved to be a loss for a few distributors. It performed well outside Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, though.
Balakrishna’s Jai Simha had the advantage of a Sankranti release. This film was an above-average grosser as it was able to cover its losses due to the failure of the other releases.
Awe was one of the surprises this year. Made on a low budget, the film managed to create a lot of buzz before its release. Meant for the urban audience, the film was a superhit in the US, but had an average run otherwise. The film’s worldwide distributor share was around Rs 7 crores, a decent figure for a small budget Indie film.
Of the 95 Telugu films (including the dubbed ones) that released till June 30, 29 films were dubbed from other languages. Last year, 38 dubbed films had released during the same period. But the success rate doubled this year.
Of the dubbed releases this year, Abhimanyudu was the most successful with a collection of Rs 19 crores and a share of over Rs 8 crores in both the Telugu states. Padmaavat, Avengers: Infinity War, Gang and Kaala were the other hits. However, of the 30 odd films that were dubbed into Telugu this year, these were the only films that made a mark.
(The figures are from Andhra Box Office and Telugu 360.)