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Interview of Bekkam Venugopal about success of Paagal

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Producer Bekkam Venugopal today said that Vishwak Sen-starrer 'Paagal' is a box office hit. In this interview, he talks about the collections, why the movie couldn't realize its fullest potential, the real problem plaguing the film industry and more.

The theatrical release of 'Paagal' on August 14 was an overnight decision we took after the release of 'SR Kalyanamandapam'. The songs, the teaser were a hit with the audience. The openings exceeded our expectations. Thanks to the collections on Day 1 and Day 2, we could achieve break-even.

I have been in the film industry for more than 15 years. Lucky Media has been into making movies continuously. I have always trodden with great caution in making movies. I know the business potential of a movie. Only if all the stakeholders are happy, can you call a movie a super-hit.

'Paagal' is a super-hit. Let me say that it was my own release. Due to the pandemic, we didn't approach other distributors also because Dil Raju garu was with us. Our movie is going to stream on Amazon Prime soon.

I am happy that we choose the right date to release 'Paagal' in theatres. Our movie has grossed Rs 12 Cr so far. I am dealing with the distributors depending on my personal rapport with them. These details are not known to the media. Nobody can determine the Share figures as of now because the Share is yet to be decided by us.

Vishwak Sen had said that he will change his name if 'Paagal' flops. He doesn't need to. Our film is a super-hit. We actually started out with huge expectations, thinking our movie will make a share of Rs 20 Cr or so. The pandemic muted our expectations in no time. We made Rs 8 Cr from non-theatrical deals.

The 50% occupancy rule in Andhra Pradesh hasn't been a huge problem. A bigger problem is the three shows a day rule because of the night curfews. The ticket prices are too low. The family audience aren't turning up at all.

It's only when middle-class people watch a movie can the collections be huge. People who make Rs 30,000 or so per month can spend Rs 1,000 on a movie with the family. Those sections are yet to come to theatres with families because of the pandemic. People are also scared of a possible third wave. Unless the fear of the virus goes away, there is no way our films will make Rs 100 Cr, Rs 200 Cr like before.

The Telugu audience are the only section watching movies in theatres anywhere in the world. Even in the US, it's only Telugu movies like 'Raja Raja Chora' that are drawing audiences.

I am producing a movie with Sree Vishnu as the hero. It's a biopic telling the story of a tough cop. Depending on the situation, its release strategy will be planned. It will probably release in theatres in December. It's like a 'Sarfarosh', which is a very intense story.

Producers who earn more from non-theatrical deals are willing to take the risk in terms of a theatrical release. Even distributors have no clue how much a film should be bought for. My next film, too, is going to be my own release.

Thanks to OTT, the revenue potential of movies has gone up for sure. But unless a movie does well in theatres, it can't make huge profits. If audiences increasingly prefer to watch on OTT, revenues from satellite rights will naturally come down.

Updated on August 31, 2021