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Interview with KL Damodar Prasad
Date: 16 March, 2011, Hyderabad

KL Damodar Prasad is the son of noted producer Ranjit Kumar who produced several blockbusters with Krishna in the past on Sri Ranjith Movies banner. KL Damodar Prasad is an uncompromising producer and wants to hold the reigns of production firmly in his hands instead of succumbing to director/hero demands. That’s why it took him so many years to come back and make a film. His comeback vehicle Ala Modalaindi turned out to be a superhit despite having many production issues and release problems. Damodar Prasad firmly believes that the producer is the king and is going to produce his future movies in his way -

My father (K Ranjith Kumar) launched Sri Ranjith Movies in 1973 and Cheekati Velugulu was his first venture. This film featured Krishna, Vanisri and Padma Priya in the main leads. KS Prakash Rao (father of K Raghavendra Rao) directed this film. This film story has an army backdrop and it was one of the expensive films made as the unit went to Kashmir to shoot this movie. Chakravarthy scored music and this film was a big musical hit. Our second movie Manavoori Katha had Krishna and jayaprada in the main leads. Hemambhara Rao was the director. Our third film featured NTR, Jayaprada and Manjula in main leads and it was directed by Nandamuri Ramesh. Our 4th film ‘Naa Lage Endaro’ won 12 Nandi awards including Golden Nandi as best movie. Eeranki Sharma directed it. Narayana Rao, Roopa Devi and Pallavi acted in it. We have also made a Telugu/Tamil bilingual called Tholi Kodi Koosindi (Sarath Babu, Seema, Saritha and Madhavi). Later we have made two more films Chattaniki Veyi Kallu and Lanke Bindelu with Krishna as hero in the direction of Vijaya Nirmala.

My dad has passed away on 11 June, 1984 and I took over the banner. We haven’t made any movies after that. We stopped making movies after that as situation has changed in film industry. The producer’s control over filmmaking was going down. I believe that the producer is the king/kingmaker in filmmaking. I started contemplating on making movies since 98 and listened to many stories. I have listened to 100’s of stories. Quality writers are diminishing in film industry. Whoever could write/narrate a subject became interested in film direction.

Kalyani Malik is a very good friend of me and he asked me to listen to the script of Nandini Reddy in 2009. I liked the subject so much that I decided to offer her this movie after listening till interval. The first question I asked Nandini was how long she had been working in film industry. She said ‘7 years’. It is a great achivement to work in a male dominated film industry for seven years. I personally feel that the grind one goes through while working for directors/producers is very important for new comers. She came with half a page of paper when she narrated the subject. I asked her to make a bound script.

What is the commercial result of Ala Modalaindi?
I allocated 3 crores as the budget of the movie. We should always keep 10% extra budget as buffer. Since it was being made by a new comer, I kept 20% as buffer and we finished the movie with in the buffered budget. The production got delayed because we took more time between the schedules.

The film making was a very small task compared to releasing the movie. Initially I wanted to release this movie along with Orange. But nobody was willing to give theaters. Then, I have decided to release the movie on 21 Jan. But I didn’t have buyers till the night of 18 Jan. I had shown the film to all major distributors. All I wanted from them was the cost of print and publicity as an advance. But nobody was interested in releasing the movie. I took the decision to release the movie on my own and arranged for the money. I cleared all the dues by 20 January. I didn’t have a main theater for Hyderabad. An exhibitor promised me Sudarshan theater, but a big hero’s film was completing 100 days on 21 Jan, hence he was willing to offer me the theater from 22 Jan. I was okay with taking the theater from 22 Jan, but the exhibitor demanded me a weekly rental of 5 lacs upfront. I said no and visited Usha Mayuri. Usha Mayuri was the main theater for films like Anand in the past, but now it is reduced as side theaters. The maintenance was not good. I talked to Usha Mayuri people and offered to have it as main theater to Ala Modalaindi if they improve their maintenance. They said yes and we released this movie in Usha Mayuri.

Ala Modalaindi was opened with 85% collections and it never dipped below 90% for the next two weeks in all the theaters it was released. The tickets were sold in black in areas like Guntur and Vijayawada even in 3rd week. Still, we couldn’t get more theaters in the next week as a big film Wanted was released on 26 Jan. A urbane multiplex film like Ala Modalaindi has one/two shows in Prasads and Wanted was released with 16 shows in the same multiplex. We got 5 shows in Prasads from 3rd week. I lost out around 1.5 crore because we didn’t get more theaters in the first week. In a multiplex like Prasads, producer gets 55% in first week, 50% in the second week and 30% from the third week onwards. I lost out on the initial margin.

It’s completed 50 days now and I asked my executive producer about where we stand. He says that we will make money, but not substantial enough. The good mouth talk of the movie has not converted into money. Piracy entered the market on the 3rd day. Nandini who went to Tirupati in a weekend found that a CD containing Wanted/Ala Modalaindi and Golkonda High School for 30 bucks.

What is your next film?
I am listening to a couple of scripts now. Meanwhile, I am doing a film with Allari Naresh as hero in partnership.

Do you have any suggestions for aspiring film producers?
There is nothing wrong if you want to produce a movie. But treat it like a business. Don’t make films with a personal agenda (ego/fame). Please don’t come to film industry with the motto ‘dabbu poyina parledu...’.

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