Tin­sel Times in Andhra

Naidu of­fers big sops to Tel­ugu film in­dus­try to make Vizag its new hub

India Today - - STATES - By Amar­nath K. Menon

Nara Chan­drababu Naidu is in­tent on lur­ing the Tel­ugu film in­dus­try from its present hub in Hy­der­abad to the port city of Visakha­p­at­nam in his state Andhra Pradesh. The chief min­is­ter, who much like his fa­ther-in-law N.T. Rama Rao, lured the Tel­ugu in­dus­try to move from Chen­nai to Hy­der­abad in the 1980s, is of­fer­ing film­mak­ers ex­tra­or­di­nary in­cen­tives.

Naidu’s of­fer: no en­ter­tain­ment tax on movies with bud­gets un­der Rs 4 crore; zero charge for shoot­ing at most lo­ca­tions in the state; sin­gle win­dow for clear­ances and per­mis­sions to film; sub­si­dies from the Andhra Pradesh Film Tele­vi­sion and Theatre De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion; and pri­or­ity al­lot­ment of land at re­duced rates to set up stu­dios. The govern­ment has set aside 350 acres out­side Visakha­p­at­nam for this.

To avail of these ben­e­fits, pro­duc­tion houses need to be reg­is­tered in Andhra Pradesh. For its part, the state govern­ment is also set­ting up a film in­sti­tute named after NTR in its new cap­i­tal, Amar­a­vati.

State film cor­po­ra­tion chair­man Am­bika Kr­ishna be­lieves the in­cen­tives “will help build a vi­able ecosys­tem for film­mak­ing” in the state. They are specif­i­cally tar­get­ing smaller film­mak­ers,

who ac­count for 85 per cent of the Tel­ugu movies pro­duced ev­ery year.

Many in the in­dus­try are ex­cited. “If the state man­ages the flow of funds and in­cen­tives and en­forces easeof-busi­ness prac­tices like for other in­dus­try sec­tors, re­gional pro­duc­tions will get a boost,” says well-known pro­ducer Dag­gu­bati Suresh Babu. Be­sides fa­cil­i­tat­ing shoots, he says post-pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties must also be set

up for Andhra to emerge as a cen­tre for cinema.

While some are scep­ti­cal about two hubs for Tel­ugu cinema, oth­ers point to the Malay­alam movie in­dus­try, which is not re­stricted to a sin­gle cen­tre. Naidu is keen to cap­i­talise on the pic­turesque lo­cales of Araku Val­ley, the Go­davari delta and the rocky Ray­alaseema ter­rain, which he hopes to trans­form into ma­jor tourism des­ti­na­tions.

But few film­mak­ers have so far shown in­ter­est. Pro­duc­erdi­rec­tor Tam­mareddy Bharad­waja says the state must clar­ify what it will do to pro­mote film pro­duc­tion, be­sides pro­vid­ing fis­cal in­cen­tives. “Sops apart, the state should de­velop in­fra­struc­ture in and around the shoot­ing lo­cales rather than of­fer­ing land for stu­dios and hous­ing sites that end up as real es­tate propo­si­tions for those that get them,” says pro­ducer K.L. Damodar Prasad. He sug­gests that Andhra adopt Ker­ala’s prac­tice of dis­pers­ing the film in­dus­try and link­ing it to tourism.

Naidu’s bag of in­cen­tives for Tel­ugu film­mak­ers comes ahead of elec­tions to both the state assem­bly and Lok Sabha next year. The elec­tions in 2019 are ex­pected to be quite a ‘filmi’ af­fair with two ma­jor biopics—glo­ri­fy­ing NTR and an­other former chief min­is­ter Y.S. Ra­jasekhara Reddy (YSR)—set for re­lease ahead of the elec­tions.

The NTR biopic is be­ing made by Naidu’s ac­tor-politi­cian son N. Balakr­ishna. The movie about YSR, pre­dictably, is be­ing made by the former CM’s son, Y.S. Ja­gan­mo­han Reddy, and the YSR Congress. Movie-crazy Tel­ugu au­di­ences are not com­plain­ing.

M.K. PAT­NAIK

BIG WAVE? A film shoot in progress on Beach Road in Vizag

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