'Most Eligible Bachelor' will be released in theatres on October 15. In this interview, producer Bunny Vasu talks about the movie, working with Akhil Akkineni, Pawan Kalyan's recent comments, the issues looked into by the AP government, 'Pushpa', Allu Arjun's upcoming movies and more.
Akhil Akkineni's previous movies were well-mounted ones. In 'Most Eligible Bachelor', he is a middle-class guy who does small action scenes. The story is a sensitive one. Our film gives a sense of clarity to those who are going to get married. What is the eligibility before and after marriage? Very few parents tell their children how they should behave post their marriage. In short, 'MEB' talks about the post-marital behaviour of individuals.
Akhil comes from an orthodox family, while Pooja Hegde is a free-spirited woman. The film talks about a solution after touching upon a delicate point.
Director Baskar takes a lot of time for scripting. But the production works are completed fast. He thinks constantly to fine-tune his product. He added a couple of lines till the last day of print. The shoot of 'MEB' was completed in 85 days. During the pandemic, a lot of improvements were made.
I have known writer Vasu Varma for many years. During the making of 'Geetha Govindam', he helped me a lot with scripting. I used to spend a lot of time on each movie. Allu Aravind garu said that we have to expand our business into other industries like Bollywood. I had to speed up things and started using Vasu Varma's services even more. Some of the talented people working for our banner are also getting credit as producers.
We at GA2Pictures are sentimental about the Akkineni family. Naga Chaitanya's '100% Love' was my first hit as a producer. So, I hope 'MEB' is going to be even bigger.
Post the second wave, the collections of good films are dropping after three or four days. The industry is definitely going through a hard time. 'MEB' has been a 2.5 year-old project. Although it's financially risky to release our movie at this point of time, we have no other go. Akhil, too, hasn't had a hit for 2.5 years.
On AP government, Pawan Kalyan and more:
The government is looking into the requests of the producers. It's going to take time for them to revise the ticket prices in Andhra Pradesh. As for the second shows, there are Covid-related protocols that are delaying things. Once cases go down, 100% occupancy will be reinstated.
Pawan Kalyan garu spoke his mind recently. We met with the AP Minister (Perni Nani) and later Kalyan garu to bridge the communication gap. There should be no place for misunderstanding between them. We requested both to be conciliatory. They responded positively.
On Online ticketing:
About 200 theatres in AP are still showing revenue less than Rs 20 lakh per year. It's not believable. So, online ticketing may be the only option to bring them under the ambit of GST. The government is seeking suggestions from us to bring about transparency. The booking counters will continue to be there at the theatres. Offline ticketing will not stop if online ticketing is introduced by the government. The government has no intention to collect collections and park them in their account. It's merely speculative in nature. It won't be a monopoly of the government at all. All that it wants is transparency. A consultative committee involving various stakeholders will be formed.
In Telangana, theatres are following a systematic process. The record-keeping is systematic. The tax compliance is also way better compared to AP. Third-party leases are normal in AP. They are evading taxes and are trying to make huge revenues from other means like snacks. If the government is shown revenue genuinely, they will cooperate with the film industry.
After the ticket prices were reduced by the government, the theatres moved the High Court, which told them about a committee, about which they didn't know. There has been some miscommunication and things will be sorted out. Jaganmohan Reddy garu has sought a report on the whole issue. Officials are in the process of preparing a comprehensive report. Things take some time to take off in any government.
The film industry will speak in one voice after a committee is formed. This is what I have requested of the Film Chamber of Commerce as well. There will be exhibitors and producers in it.
When a movie releases, a producer has to hire a representative for each theatre. If my movie is releasing on 2,100 screens, I need to hire those many reps. In the US, collections are tracked online and it's hassle-free for the producer. Why shouldn't we support such a system here? Even if you are buying the ticket via the BO counter at the theatre, the sale is registered through a software. So, everything is online. The AP government wants integration now, which means tickets booked at theatres and online will be integrated.
Transparency will benefit everyone, be it the audience, producers or the government.
On MAA elections:
I haven't followed the topic much. But I wish the elections were calm and cool. After all, we all work closely with one another.
On Pushpa & Allu Arjun:
If the third wave is not there, I think theatres will function normally from December. 'Pushpa' will take Allu Arjun to the next level.
Geetha Arts is trying to produce a movie in the combination of Allu Arjun and Boyapati Srinu. But since 'Pushpa' has been split into two parts, there is no clarity about the project as of now.
When 'Pushpa 2' will be completed can't be said with certainty. If there is a coronavirus breakout, the shoot will get delayed obviously.
A film with AR Murugadoss and Allu Arjun will also be there. Everything will fall into place once the uncertainty over the pandemic disappears.
I am in talks with Aha regarding the gap between theatrical and post-theatrical OTT releases. The window has to be wide. All producers have to be united and have to observe the same window. My personal stance is that there has to be a gap of at least 40 days. But a lot of producers are selling their movies to OTTs for an extra Rs 1-2 Cr and OTTs are streaming them in 20 days.