The Hindi-language Mumbai-based film industry known as Bollywood has been the most watched segment of the Indian film industry for decades, but that dominance is waning.
In recent years, South Indian cinema, comprising the Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam language industries, has stolen a march on its more glamorous Bollywood counterparts in both content and box office.
In the 1990s, Mani Ratnam’s Tamil language films Roja (1992) and Bombay (1995) were successful across India in their Hindi dubbed versions and the filmmaker made a few films in Hindi before returning to his native Tamil. The concept of a pan-India hit, i.e. films made in one of the South Indian languages becoming a hit across India and in Indian diaspora markets in Hindi and dubbed versions in other languages, is the case with SS Rajamouli’s “Baahubali” films (2015 and 2017), made in Telugu and Tamil, together grossed $379 million worldwide, with a significant share of the Hindi dub.
It was during the pandemic years — when Indian audiences were exposed to an abundance of non-Bollywood content in lockdown — that South Indian films far outpaced Bollywood, as the numbers prove. In 2021, the highest number of Indian films were released in Telugu (204) and Tamil (152) and only 84 films were released in Hindi, according to the annual EY Media Industry Report. The Indian box office recovered after the pandemic with $472 million and South Indian films contributed $290 million of that, three times what Hindi films produced, along with countless other Indian languages.
2022 has been a testing year for Bollywood with ‘Lal Singh Chadha’, ‘Raksha Bandhan’, ‘Shamsheera’, ‘Samrat Prithviraj’ and ‘Vikram Vedha’ featuring A-list talent at the box office. Underperforming. Among the top 10 box office hits of 2022 so far, only three, “Brahmamaster: Part One – Shiva” at No. 4, “The Kashmir Files” at No. 6 and “Bhol Bholaya 2” at No. 7 are in Hindi. . The rest of the top 10 are from South India with Kannada-language “KGF: Chapter 2”, Telugu-language “RRR” and Tamil-language “Ponniyin Selvan: Part 1” occupying the top three positions.
Elara Capital analyst Kiran Torani attributes the poor performance of Bollywood films to “bad content”. “People really want to watch more content-driven movies now, and not star-driven movies,” Torani said. A variety of varieties.
High ticket prices in Bollywood markets, compared to South India, is another factor. India celebrated September 23 as National Cinema Day, with ticket prices slashed to 75 rupees (90 cents) and 6.5 million people flocking to 4,000 participating cinemas. “If so many people are eager to come to theatres, why are we keeping them away?” Is there a way we can adjust in a way that we can get people back into what is currently a stagnant industry?” asks actor R. Madhavan, who works in both the Bollywood and South Indian industries and whose “Dhoka” – Round Day Corner” was a direct beneficiary of the reduced ticket rates.
Filmmaker Mahesh Narayanan, who straddles the worlds of both commercial (“Malak”) and art-house (“Arepo”) cinema in the Malayalam-language industry and is about to make his Hindi-language debut with “Phantom Hospital,” feels that Bollywood films take a long time to get the green light and lose their freshness. He also felt that many of these films are not relatable to the Indian audience.
“Some Hindi films where you see it, people write it off as having a Western mindset and they don’t see it in the Indian context,” Narayanan said. A variety of varieties. “Where did these characters come from?” Where is the root? Are they the foundation? This is something that Malayalam cinema usually focuses on – even if it is commercial cinema, try to root it.
Narayanan adds that even larger-than-life South Indian films like “RRR” and “KGF: Chapter 2” have an “underlying emotion” that resonates with the audience.
It has been a work in progress for producers to return to pan-Indian films, featuring stars from Bollywood and South India. However, this is no guarantee of success, as the disappointing box office performances of “Radhi Shyam”, star “Baahubali” lead Prabhas and “League” lead Vijay Deverakonda (“Arjun Reddy”) this year proved. Not with Hindi or Telugu. -Language versions to resonate with the audience.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Bollywood and Torani predicts that the industry will bounce back in 2023. Om Rawat, who directed the Bollywood film ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’, which was the biggest Bollywood hit of 2020, and ‘Udipurash’ starring Prabhas. , coming in January 2023, likens the current dip to a green wave. “It’s like a dark cloud that’s going to pass,” Rawat said A variety of varieties. “It’s a sine wave, it looks like an upward trend.”
Prabhas adds: “It’s a passing phase and I think it just passed and now the country is back to good times.”
Actor, director, producer and distributor Prithviraj Sukumaran, who works primarily in South India but is quickly returning to the Hindi industry, says all Indian industries have their ups and downs, not just Bollywood. “Film lovers in the North feel that everything from the South is turning to gold – because they only hear about gold,” Sukumaran said. A variety of varieties. “There’s a lot of things that aren’t very flashy here, too. Not every film we make is going to be a big hit.
Saif Ali Khan, star of “Vikram Veeda” and “Tanhaji” also feels that Bollywood box office is cyclical and it will recover. “We need some good wins so that people can start investing with confidence again. I’m sorry to say that I don’t think there are any good movies out there and we just need to make better movies. A variety of varieties.