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NEW DELHI : Having tasted success in Hindi-speaking markets with dubbed versions of their films, southern studios are collaborating with Bollywood producers to remake their films, signing up for 50% partnership in most things including share of box office revenue and ancillary rights.

While veteran Telugu producer Allu Aravind presented Shahid Kapoor’s sports drama Jersey, Prithviraj Sukumaran will co-produce Selfiee, the remake of his Malayalam film Driving Licence, with Dharma Productions.

Southern language film producers who would earlier give away rights to popular films for Hindi remakes at a measly 2-3 crore are now setting their sights on a wider audience base across the country and a bigger revenue in partnering Bollywood producers.

Film trade experts said the success of RRRKGF: Chapter 2 and earlier the Baahubali franchise, has introduced southern producers to the charm of the north Indian market, where viewers are accepting of their mass-market commercial films. KGF made nearly 383 crore from its Hindi dub, while RRR made 262 crore.

“It’s a healthy and positive sign that producers are looking at different opportunities for films that can travel across states and languages, and partnering with Bollywood creative producers instead of just selling rights for remakes," Shibasish Sarkar, chief executive officer, International Media Acquisition Corp said. Sarkar, former group CEO at Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Entertainment, has seen the company strike a partnership deal with Dream Warrior Pictures for the remake of its Tamil film Kaithi which, in Hindi, is titled Bholaa and stars Ajay Devgn in the lead.

Large-scale event films from the south have reached smaller towns in north India and audiences have warmed up to their style of filmmaking, Sarkar said. While the remake may not be an exact copy of the original, and may be adapted to suit the tastes of the Hindi audience, it brings two different production teams together, he added.

Independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said southern producers have understood the monetization opportunity in the north and are tapping into the solid distribution networks and expertise of Bollywood. The Hindi versions of Baahubali and KGF have benefited from Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani-owned Excel Entertainment coming on board as presenters. “No producer wants to sell the rights and exit anymore. They want to continue to be in the limelight, take a share in all profits and make sure their brand gets a boost in the northern market," Pillai pointed out.

Hindi remakes of successful southern films are not new.

“But southern language producers have realised their IPs were already being milked in the north and now want to milk it themselves instead of giving the rights away. It’s only the smart thing to do," said independent film exhibitor Vishek Chauhan. 

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