Telugu film in South Africa
సౌత్ ఆఫ్రీకా లో తెలుగు చలనచిత్రం
A major segment of the Indian community in S.Africa is of Telugu descent. Recently BALU - ABCDEFG was shown in theatres there, and it was a huge success. This is the first major Telugu ( or South Indian ) movie to be screened in that country. Does this signify the herald of a new pride among the S.African Telugus? Let's wait and see.
An article from the Daily News , S.Africa
The gamble pays off
March 21, 2005
By Debashine Thangevelo
Remember the recently screened Balu ABCDEFG (a boy can do everything for a girl), which was the first Telugu movie to be shown on the big screen in ages?
Well, Srenivasalu Shyam Kumar, a film distributor and producer from Hyderabad who is currently based in Durban, is the man who made it all possible.
To say that Kumar took a calculated risk by bringing out Balu ABCDEFG would be an understatement, it was a huge gamble. Thankfully for Kumar, it paid off.
"The support from moviegoers, especially from the Tamil community, has strengthened my determination to bring down about 12 Telugu/Tamil releases every year.
Of course, this depends entirely on the availability of movie theatres," says Kumar.
Not only is Kumar passionate about making movies in South Africa, he is also intent on motivating producers from the South Indian film industry to come here to shoot their films.
Kumar first arrived in South Africa for a holiday last year and fell in love with the country, the beautiful weather and friendly people, he also loved the
breathtaking, scenic locales on offer. Four months ago, with the help of a friend who is based in Durban, Kumar launched 21st Century Innovations, a film distribution and production sister company to KAD Entertainment India Pvt Ltd Hyderabad.
They also have offices in the USA, Singapore and Mauritius.
"When I arrived here a lot of people made requests for me to bring South Indian films. They said, 'You come from the film industry, why don't you organise some
films for us to watch'.
"I knew it would be easier to bring a movie here, but to release a movie it would cost a lot. I decided that even if the film that I brought down did not do well,
I would be able show it anywhere in the world and I decided to just take a chance," Kumar admits.
"I knew the genre of film that the people wanted so I went back to India and I decided that Balu was the right movie to release in South Africa - it had
comedy, a good storyline and enjoyable song and action scenes."
Looking at Kumar's background, he was born and raised in a village called Adalakata, Hyderabad. In 1975, at the age of 20, Kumar joined the YNE Studio, a studio
crew in Madras , which was known as the hub of the South Indian film industry.
Kumar worked as an assistant to skilled and sought-after cameraman Marcus Bartlay.
"I worked with Marcus for 3 to 5 years. I was his student. My film career started there and I got to work with famous actors like N T Ramrao, Shivaji Ganeshan, and MGR, to name but a few. "These legendary actors dominated the film industry
for 55 years," he recalls with fervour.
Kumar was also instrumental in constructing a small theatre in his village so people did not have to travel 10km to go and watch a movie. The theatre was named after his grandfather, T H Gangappa, and is still up and running to this day. Of course, it has been upgraded since then.
Aside from dabbling in village politics and travelling to many countries to support the Indian cricket team, Kumar, along with two other partners, started KAD
Entertainment India Pvt Ltd Hyderabad.
"Our company takes three of the six movies released every week for our own distribution. The films are shown all over the world," reveals Kumar.
Currently there are plans afoot to film a movie in South Africa. While the director and cameraman will be from India, the crew and cast will comprise local talent.
"My director is presently completing four films. This will mark his 96th to 99th film. I want his 100th film to be with me. It should start by July/August this
year," he confirms. Some of the destinations that Kumar is looking at to
shoot the movie, include the Kruger National park, Robben Island and an undisclosed location in Durban.
Kumar adds that while it takes 30 days to film a movie, it could take about three months to finalise the cast, crew and all the other details.
"My story has four heroes and one heroine. I don't want to divulge too much of the storyline, but I will say that I have included a gambling sub-plot in the romantic comedy, which will boast a local flavour."
What's next in the pipeline for this busy entrepreneur?
"I will be bringing down another Telugu film, which is directed by Prabu Deva, and a Tamil movie," Kumar says.