Kerala film industry is going through its worst phase in recent times with its theatre association refusing to exhibit any Malayalam films. The cause for the standoff is a long-standing dispute over sharing of profits. The association is demanding 50 percent of the profit from theatres as opposed to the prevailing 40 percent of the proceeds.
If Mollywood ended the year 2016 on a sour note with no new releases, the withdrawal of the movies was another crisis that hit the screens before the latest standoff between the association and producers. But amidst the unending chaos, one film, a director and his crew remain an exception - that is Dr Biju and his crew.
The celebrated director is pulling up his sleeves for the release of his latest movie, Kaadu Pookkunna Neram (When the Woods Bloom). Kaadu Pookkunna Neram, written and directed by Dr Biju and produced by Sophia Paul, under the banner of Weekend Blockbusters film production house, is set to hit the big screens on January 6 despite the theatre strike.
Amidst the ongoing feud in the Malayalam film industry, International Business Times, India caught up with the quiet, resolute and unfazed three time National Award winner and discussed the strike, his latest movie ahead of the release and more.
On the release despite strike:
The strike is unlikely to have any effect on the release of Kaadu Pookkunna Neram. The film, which talks about Maoism, one of the most discussed topics in Kerala, will be the first release of Malayalam film industry in 2017. Although Maoism and the numerous encounters with the state was not the talk of town, while shooting the movie, the topic has become a point of discussion after completion of the project. This should provide a good opening for the movie.
Kaadu Pookkunna Neram, starring Indrajith Sukumaran as a policeman and Rima Kallingal as the chief of a radical organisation, will hit around 40 government and multiplex theatres screens which are not participating in the strike on Friday, January 6.
On the ongoing strike in the Malayalam film industry:
The strike, which has forced the makers to withdraw their films from the theatres, is unjustifiable. The crisis has to be resolved as soon as possible since it is affecting the industry. This situation is something that is unheard of as globally exhibitors are paid only for the venue and it is unnecessary to have a claim on the profits of the producers. The strike will leave a massive impact on the industry despite the hard work and the efforts put in by film makers and their crew.
On the way forward:
The government should intervene to end the long-standing tiff once and for all. I believe we need a body or ombudsman to mediate between the theatre association and producers to avoid such confrontations in future. We must put in place a system to work out a higher tax for non-Malayalam films and grading system for theatres that other states have adopted. Many theatres in Kerala do not have even the basic facilities and this is something the authorities should look into as priority.
On his latest venture:
I am optimistic that Kaadu Pookkunna Neram will open doors for candid debates and discussions on issues the society is grappling with and Maoism ranks high up in the list.