Mahesh Babu enjoys the biggest market in Telugu Cinema which has been challenged by Prabhas, Ram Charan and Allu Arjun, in past three years. While Baahubali is in different league, Saaho from Prabhas, even with negative talk collected close to 85 to 90 crores share from Telugu markets only.
Showing that Baahubali craze has indeed consolidated into a market in Telugu and even there is a market for him Pan-India too. All he needs is another hit film to just clearly give an indication about the range of the market.
Ram Charan and Allu Arjun did give bigger hits than Mahesh Babu in competition for 2018 Summer and 2020 Sankranthi. This means that even though Mahesh Babu is drawing crowds, his audiences are expecting more from him.
Directors have to come up with scripts that can address this and this situation has made Mahesh tough to please, at least before locking the script, it seems.
Hence, we are seeing him growing distant to directors who once loved him. Trivikram Srinivas gave him Athadu, a film that clearly helped him form a base in family audiences but after Khaleja, they did not come together even after Trivikram scored biggest blockbusters of Telugu Cinema twice, for that time, AVPL included.
We hear that the friends have been keeping distance when it comes to working with each other while they still are cordial to each other even though they won't meet too often.
Puri Jagannath took rejection of his script, Jana Gana Mana to heart and he clearly stated that in his interviews too. But he gave him Pokiri and Businessman kind of films.
Anil Ravipudi along with Vamshi Paidipalli lost confidence of Mahesh, it seems. Sukumar and Mahesh issue is known very well to everyone.
Hence, TFI producers believe that Mahesh is becoming really tough on directors to please and his decisions have been very stern and sudden too. He used to be a directors delight and is still a delight when he is on sets, but bringing him to sets has become an Herculean task now!