Are multi-starrers next big thing in Telugu film industry?

Chennai, Feb 12 (IANS) Multi-starrers are in vogue again. Buoyed by the overwhelming success of Telugu family drama "Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu (SVSC)", several more Telugu multi-starrers are in the offing with filmmakers hoping to cash in on the trend.

Director Srikanth Addala teamed up with two leading stars, Venkatesh and Mahesh Babu, in SVSC, which released last month. The movie spelt profits for producer Dil Raju as the family drama reportedly earned about Rs.50 crore in two weeks of its release.

Next up are two multi-starrers already being shot -- action-comedy "Thadaka" starring Naga Chaitanya and Sunil and action-thriller "Shadow" with Venkatesh and Meka Srikanth.

Besides, Ram Charan Teja and Allu Arjun will be seen together in the upcoming Telugu action-thriller "Yevadu".

"These films have the ability to draw more audiences to the cinemas provided they have good content," said Telugu producer S. Raju.

"Besides satisfying content, a multi-starrer will attract more audiences because there are two stars involved in it. Imagine what will happen if Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan share screen space? It is sure to draw all fans of the actors to the cinemas to catch them together on screen."

Amongst the most anticipated Telugu multi-starrers is a film that may be titled "Trayam" or "Hum". If things fall into place, it will see three generations of the Akkineni family - Nageswara Rao teaming up with son Nagarjuna and grandson Naga Chaitanya.

Vikram Kumar of "Ishq" has been finalised to wield the megaphone for the film, which is yet to go on floors.

"Talks are still on about the film, which has already created enough hype in the industry. If it manages to go on the floors any time soon, it is sure to pique the interest of the audience to a great extent," said S. Raju.

Another proposed film that has generated a buzz is the Telugu remake of "Bol Bachchan", which is likely to star Venkatesh and Ram Pothineni.

The multi-starrer trend gradually withered away after stars grew conscious of building their image, pointed out trade analyst Trinath.

"We've had several such Telugu films over the years. Legends such as N.T. Rama Rao and Nageswara Rao have shared the screen on several occasions. But the trend started losing prominence because actors worry that sharing screen space will strip them of their individual star value," he said.

"Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan were seen together in the initial days of their career, but never after that and so were Suriya and Vijay. As much as everybody wants to see them together, there are so many other factors that need scrutiny," added Trinath.

A Chennai-based distributor says another most worrying concern while making a multi-starrer project is production cost. The mininum budget for such a film is Rs.25 crore.

"One needs to understand that if two or more stars are coming together, then the production cost is likely to skyrocket. To pay two superstars and still shell out money to finish the project becomes a Herculean task and seldom do producers want to try that," he said.

"Even if a producer is willing to cast multiple stars in a project, other factors such as call sheets need to be taken into consideration especially in an era when most top actors are keen to do more than one project in a year," added the distributor.

The problems notwithstanding, filmmakers are taking the risk because multi-starrers promise big moolah at the box office.

(Haricharan Pudipeddi can be contacted at haricharanpudipeddi@gmail.com)

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