Home / Industry / Media /  Southern movies double down on production budgets

NEW DELHI: The Telugu and Tamil film industries are seeing budgets double for films as they find audience acceptance across the country through multiple dubbed versions. Prabhas’ next film with KGF director Prashanth Neel, Allu Arjun’s Pushpa 2, SS Rajamouli’s upcoming film with Mahesh Babu and Ram Charan’s film with S. Shankar are among the many projects with budgets between Rs. 150 crore and 200 crore each, that are looking at big scale, action and visual effects and a wider distribution for nationwide success.

Southern cinema, especially, films dubbed in Hindi, have seen their satellite TV and streaming rights soar by 300% in the past decade on the back of their growing popularity. Consequently, producers have been able to increase budgets as they look to cater to audiences beyond their home states where they had already maximised returns, trade experts said. For instance, Telugu star Chiranjeevi’s upcoming film Godfather that also features Salman Khan and is scheduled for the Dussehra weekend, has sold ancillary rights for around Rs. 100 crore.

Not just that, once the first part to a franchise is a hit, a lot more money is spent on the second part. “The draw around the franchise has to be preserved or made bigger," Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema said. Clearly, filmmakers down south understand the appeal of movie franchises and stars and are investing big money in upcoming titles to woo the mass-market audiences even in the Hindi belt. Film producer Anand Pandit said the success of the Baahubali franchise has led to budgets being expanded and southern cinema has delivered several pan-India hits. They have also learnt from Hollywood which taps the potential of multiple language markets in India through dubs, he said.

In 2018, KGF: Chapter 1 had made a little over Rs. 44 crore from its Hindi version. In 2022, KGF: Chapter 2 clocked in Rs. 434 crore from its dubbed Hindi version alone. Actors like Ram Charan and Jr. NTR, both of whom saw success in the Hindi belt with RRR, will feature in big-budget films, untitled ventures with directors S. Shankar and Koratala Siva respectively, which will see wide release across the country.

Independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai pointed out that filmmakers in the south are confident of the draw of the theatrical medium with fans continuing to throng to the latest movies of the stars they worship. Between Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vijay, Dhanush, Suriya, Ajith, Arun Vijay and Silambarasan TR, Tamil cinema alone can guarantee a dozen money-spinners each year. “Everything is worked out according to the market value of the lead actor," Pillai said.

Film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar, however pointed out that producers in the south are far more cognizant of costs and do not spend mindlessly. “Even if upcoming films of say, Allu Arjun, Suriya or Prabhas are top-heavy, it is based on what the script demands," Johar said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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