There is reason to say cheers. 2006 started with a super hit and ended with a commercial success. The year saw some hits, super hits and many flops. Still there is a reason to celebrate as the success ratio is better than the previous year, which was dominated by dubbed films from Tamil.
Of course, the number of original films also came down compared to 2005. While there were 134original Telugu releases in 2005, the number came down to 110 in 2006. There was a natural spurt in dubbed films, 88 to be precise but barring a couple of them, most went into oblivion. The Telugu industry witnessed an impressive 198 releases in 2006.
The audience voted for entertainment across all genres — action, romance, emotional dramas, family entertainers and comedies. Y.V.S. Chowdary set the ball rolling with his super hit love story Devadasu, which had newcomers Ram and Ileana. Both the actors are much sought after today.
Family themes found their way back to the box office. For instance, Narayana's super hit Andala Ramudu with Sunil and Aarti Agarwal. And the biggest hit among the family fare is debut director Bhaskar's Bommarillu produced by `Dil' Raju. Starring Siddharth, Prakash Raj and Genelia, the film made with half the budget of Pokiri competed neck-and-neck with that runaway hit for the top slot.
Venkatesh and Nayantara in `Lakshmee'
That brings us to action flicks, still considered a safe bet by many producers. Puri Jagannath rewrote 75 years of Telugu talkies' box office records with the Mahesh-Ileana starrer, Pokiri, reported to have raked in Rs. 40 crore. V.V. Vinayak's Lakshmee with Venkatesh and Nayantara in the lead was a super hit too. The other hits in this category are choreographer-turned-film-maker Rajasekhar's Ranam with Gopichand, S.S. Rajamouli's Vikramarkudu with Raviteja in a double role.
K. Raghavendra Rao's socio-mythological Sri Ramadasu won kudos for its lead star Nagarjuna and earned back its investment. Chiranjeevi proved for the umpteenth time with Stalin that he is still a big draw at the BO. The other hits include comedies like E.V.V. Satyanarayana's Kithakithalu, Nidhi Prasad's Bhagyalakshmi Bumper Draw, Srinivas Reddy's Tata Birla Madhyalo Laila besides Lawrence's Style, Ravi C. Kumar's Samanyudu, Chandu's Tenth Class and Madan's Pellaina Kothalo... Released on December 23, Krishnavamsi's Rakhi starring Chinna N.T.R and Ileana is also expected to rake in moderate profits, according to initial trade reports.
Ironically, the biggest winner is also the biggest loser of the year. Mahesh who starred in the big hit Pokiri had to sign off the year with a Rs. 25 crore budget flop, Sainikudu. Most other heroes followed suit. Nagarjuna with one grosser (Sri Ramadasu) and one flop — Boss, Vikramarkudu hero Raviteja had to contend with two flops - Shock and Khatarnak. Siddharth too fared similarly with one failure (Chukkallo Chandrudu) and one hit (Bommarillu). Gopichand had one hit and one flop (Raraju). Balakrishna, Prabhas and Allu Arjun drew a blank at the BO. Pawan Kalyan's Bangaram too failed to impress while he is pinning hopes on Annavaram releasing today.
Nagarjuna in `Sri Ramadasu'
A producer commented that our A centres have gone to the US. How true. While Bommarillu grossed nearly Rs. 3.5 crore, Pokiri made over two and half crore. Even a film like Godavari, which did not do well locally, collected over one crore rupees overseas. No wonder that Aswini Dutt preferred a premier of Sainikudu in the US.
But are we able to tap the overseas markets fully? There are other markets too today apart from the satellite channels, the Internet, ring tones and clippings on mobile phones. The need of the hour is quality content.
Genelia and Siddharth in `Bommarillu'.
All said and done, the year is not as bad as 2005. It is time to celebrate as we march on to the New Year.
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A still from `Vikramarkudu'.
Box office ratings (approx) in crores
Devadasu 7 14
Lakshmee 12 20
Andala Ramudu 4 12
Pokiri 12 38-40
Bommarillu 6 25
Vikramarkudu 10 16
Stalin 16 30
Sri Ramadasu 12 12