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The arrival of these big films will be a relief especially to people in small towns and districts that do not have other sources of entertainment. (AFP)
The arrival of these big films will be a relief especially to people in small towns and districts that do not have other sources of entertainment. (AFP)

Southern industry eye big-budget, multilingual films to draw audience to cinemas

  • Made on budgets of more than 200 crore each, these films will be shot in multiple languages including Hindi, Tamil and Telugu
  • Prominent Bollywood actors will be featured in these films to capitalise on their mass appeal

NEW DELHI: The south Indian film industry, that has long set the bar for big-budget spectacles with movies like Baahubali, 2.0, KGF: Chapter 1 and Saaho, is prepping with a slate of exciting films to draw audiences to theatres in the uncertain times post the pandemic.

Made on budgets of more than 200 crore each, these will be shot in multiple languages including Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, among others and feature a mix of Bollywood and south Indian faces to draw on fan bases across states and geographies. While Baahubali director SS Rajamouli has Ajay Devgn and Alia Bhatt star alongside Jr NTR and Ram Charan in his upcoming movie RRR, Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan will be seen with Baahubali and Saaho star Prabhas in a film bankrolled by Telugu production house Vyjayanthi Movies. Prabhas also has a second film titled Adipurush with Saif Ali Khan as the antagonist to be directed by Om Raut of Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior fame while the second instalment in the KGF franchise will feature Sanjay Dutt along with Kannada star Yash.

“Everyone has realised post the pandemic that the big screen experience matters a lot," film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said. Be it Baahubali, Saaho or Hollywood spectacles like Avengers: Endgame, audiences know that the thrill of watching a big-ticket, larger-than-life experience is unmatched, even though OTT (over-the-top) streaming platforms have thrown up compelling content consistently. Further, filmmakers and studios in the south have caught on to the formula of adding a big north Indian star to their cast, like an Akshay Kumar alongside Rajinikanth in 2.0 and releasing the movie in multiple languages, Johar pointed out.

“That discovery probably happened because there are more film fanatics in the south, movie-viewing is like a religion there and they enjoy the big screen experience much more," Johar added. Plus, bringing multiple language stars together just expands the market for an individual film, makes it more viable and adds to revenue sources like satellite, digital, music and merchandise rights.

“The arrival of these big films will be a relief especially to people in small towns and districts that do not have too many other sources of entertainment," said Priyanka Dutt of Vyjayanthi Movies. “They are especially waiting for these big actors whom they consider idols."

Films like Baahubali and 2.0 have set the bar high, Dutt said, in bringing pan-Indian audiences together and filmmakers like them have to push the envelope now with investments, high-octane action and graphics to make movies that all of the country can watch together. While some media experts say that the recent controversies Bollywood has been embroiled in, from drug allegations to nepotism will benefit these films originating primarily from regional language industries, others point to the fact that Hindi cinema has been on the backfoot for a while now.

“Bollywood has stopped making larger-than-life, mindless entertainers, the kind of mass cinema which when dubbed is watched across TV channels in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other parts of north India," independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said. While the fate of Bollywood big-hero films such as Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi and Salman Khan’s Radhe remains to be seen as they seek releases dates in 2021 now, there is no doubt people want to continue to see big stars and saleable, entertaining plotlines, Pillai said.

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