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'Thank You' is going to impress youngsters, families: Dil Raju

Monday, July 18, 2022 • Telugu Comments
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Producer Dil Raju has confirmed the release of 'Thank You' for July 22. In this interview, he describes Naga Chaitanya's performance in the film as extraordinary. He also says that youths will relate to the writing more, while the families will love a good part of the Vikram Kumar directorial.

When and how did this project take off? What made you rope in Vikram K Kumar to wield the megaphone?

It was in 2018 that writer BVS Ravi narrated the basic theme of the movie, which was not yet titled at that point. Every day, we thank people for small things in a casual manner, but what about thanking people for doing consequential things for us? The theme has an instant emotional appeal. In my long career, this is the first time that I could relate the theme to my life. I am thankful to umpteen individuals who have stood by me over the decades. After my education, I started an Automobile venture. I have been a distributor in film industry. I have produced movies. Society sees me as Dil Raju but it doesn't know how many people have made me what I am today.

Coming to choosing Vikram Kumar, he has always shown promise. Even in the case of 'Gang Leader', he narrated the first half to the audience's satisfaction. For someone who has handled a subject like 'Manam', 'Thank You' would be the right bet, I felt.

Naga Chaitanya seems to have played an author-backed role. Tell us about that. And what about the comparisons with 'Premam', for example?

Choosing him proved to be a perfect decision. He is extraordinary in the film, looking authentic as a teenager, a youngster, and a middle-aged businessman. As for the comparisons with previous films like 'Autograph' and 'Premam', they are unfounded. 'Premam' was a love story. 'Thank You' is about how its male protagonist becomes a hero from a nobody. In the process, he enters into relationships thrice (with Malavika Nair, Avika Gor, and Raashi Khanna).

You seem to have locked a crisp run-time. How confident are you about the movie's success in a supposed dull month like July?

At 135 minutes, 'Thank You' has got the right run-time. As for the July release, Pawan Kalyan's 'Toli Prema', Jr NTR's 'Simhadri' and the recent 'Fidaa' were all July releases. Didn't 'Major' and 'Vikram' become blockbusters when they were released in the first week of June?

You have announced minimal cinema ticket prices for 'Thank You'. What made you do so?

The producer has the biggest say in determining the cinema ticket prices. 'Thank You' can be watched on single screens at Rs 112 and in multiplexes at Rs 177 (including GST) in Telangana. The decision to opt for minimal prices has been driven by consumer behaviour in these times. The cost of living has increased for families. They are postponing movie-watching by opting to wait for the OTT release.

This brings us to the debate around OTTs. How do you see the streaming-service culture impacting Tollywood?

When the pandemic began in 2020, the lockdown was announced. Writers and directors found ample free time, as they had no work. They wrote scripts and pitched them to actors, who accepted the offers in quick succession. None of them were aware of the change happening as an undercurrent. OTT content was transforming the tastes of the audience. We have reached a point where average movies just can't grab footfalls in theatres.

So, are you saying that it's a double whammy in times of high living costs and OTT revolution?

Yes. The film industry is facing a multi-pronged problem. On the one hand, average content is not fetching theatrical traction. On the other hand, the consumer is inclined to spend less and less on cinema tickets.

Are the Telugu cinema stars clued into all this?

Our stars are practical and golden-hearted. Recently, when Ram Charan tried to know the scenario, I explained to him everything. Heroes will want the advancement of producers.

There has been this rumour that film shoots will be called off indefinitely from the 1st of August unless star heroes agree to reduce their remunerations. Is it true?

Just as the meeting started to be held on Sunday (July 17), media reports made unfounded speculations. Nothing has been decided.

(Note: It was today announced that the Producers Council will hold a General Body Meeting on July 21 to discuss issues pertaining to challenges from OTTs, VPF fee, production costs, working conditions & wages, cinema ticket prices, and issues concerning actors/technicians).

Your Hindi films 'Jersey' and 'HIT: The First Case' seem to have disappointed you.

When 'Jersey' was launched in Hindi, we were expecting a profit of Rs 30 Cr at the very least. As the pandemic struck and months passed, our expectations became dimmer and dimmer. By the time the movie got released after four postponements, we were like, 'We would be happy if it doesn't make losses'. 'Jersey' made a loss of about Rs 4 Cr.

As for 'HIT', it is headlined by Rajkummar Rao. On the back of its content and positive reviews, it should have netted at least Rs 15 Cr by the end of the first weekend. In reality, it hardly realized 35% of its potential. What has changed? The pandemic has brought in its wake a tectonic shift across movie industries.

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