Southern spectacles help Hindi film actors stage a comeback

  • While this is a way for established Hindi film actors like Bobby Deol, Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan to reinvent themselves, the crossover also helps to gain wider audiences in the northern belt, improving traction for the film in question.

Lata Jha
Published12 Jun 2024, 05:08 PM IST
Saif Ali Khan, who was recently seen in multilingual mythological flick Adipurush, will play the antagonist in Jr NTR-starrer Devara.
Saif Ali Khan, who was recently seen in multilingual mythological flick Adipurush, will play the antagonist in Jr NTR-starrer Devara. (X)

Hindi film actors such as Bobby Deol, Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan who may no longer be able carry full-fledged projects on their shoulders, have received a new lease of life thanks to main antagonist roles in big-budget movies originally made in southern languages but often released with multiple dubbed versions. Deol will be seen in a Tamil film with Suriya titled Kanguva and will also appear in a Telugu project starring Nandamuri Balakrishna. Meanwhile, Dutt who has featured in titles like KGF: Chapter 2 and Leo, will be seen in Telugu action film Double iSmart scheduled to release this week. Khan, who was recently seen in multilingual mythological flick Adipurush, will play the antagonist in Jr NTR-starrer Devara. Trade experts say while this is a way for established actors to reinvent themselves, the crossover also helps to gain wider audiences in the northern belt, improving traction for the film in question.

Big stars turned to character roles after playing lead

“There has been a scenario where a lot of big stars have turned to character roles after playing the lead in order to extend their longevity. When the heavy-lifting at the box office is done by someone else, it is easy for these stars to make the required impact in a reimagined avatar,” film distributor and exhibitor Akshaye Rathi said. In case of recent southern films, while the Bollywood names shall play crucial parts, it is easy to mount the big-budget projects thanks to the presence of bankable southern stars such as Suriya and Jr NTR. Trade experts said the southern movie industries are anyway doing spectacularly well, making these faces popular in the Hindi belt only a value addition when it comes positioning the films as pan-India and not regional language projects.

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To be sure, while 2023 did not see any southern language films breaking out in the Hindi-speaking belt, the tide is expected to turn with new films like Allu Arjun’s Pushpa 2: The Rule; Prabhas and Deepika Padukone-starrer Kalki 2898 AD; Kamal Haasan’s Indian 2; Jr NTR’s Devara; and Ram Charan’s Game Changer. These are expected to build on the legacy of all-time blockbusters such as Baahubali 2: The Conclusion and KGF: Chapter 2 that had earned 510.99 crore and 434.7 crore with their dubbed Hindi versions alone.

Increasingly, filmmakers have realised that regional lines have blurred thanks to audiences discovering content across languages on OTT, film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said. It is important for southern industries to grow their share of the market too and while a dubbed Hindi version of the film is one way to do it, getting faces familiar in the north will soon be more the norm than an exception, Johar added. Female actors like Deepika Padukone and Janhvi Kapoor shall feature in Telugu action films Kalki and Devara this year.

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Rahul Puri, managing director, Mukta Arts and Mukta A2 Cinemas, agreed that there is an appetite to see actors who already come with a certain amount of recognition and value, as characters as opposed to regular lead roles. Further, the fact that names like Deol and Khan have also appeared in web projects such as Aashram and Tandav alongside, prove that they are rediscovering themselves and that there is a chance for filmmakers to come up with more character-oriented roles for them. “The southern industries also try to get these actors on board for projects to establish better presence and recognition in the Hindi belt,” Puri added.

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First Published:12 Jun 2024, 05:08 PM IST
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