In recent times, films from the south have had phenomenal success in the Hindi belt. What has long been referred to as “regional cinema” has enjoyed record success in the post-pandemic era. Now let it be the Hindi dubbed version of Allu Arjun’s Telugu film Pushpa: The Rise (which grossed ₹106 crore) or SS Rajamouli RRR and the Kannada movie KGF 2, which both grossed ₹300 crore each, South Indian films outperformed big-budget Hindi films.
It is perhaps only too true to say that Hindi cinema has long been referred to as ‘Indian cinema’ and films in other languages are categorized as ‘regional cinema’. So what does Bollywood think of the unprecedented success of southern films? While actor Manoj Bajpayee says “Bollywood filmmakers are scared”, Nawazuddin Siddiqui thinks it’s just a “phase”.
Manoj Bajpayee says the success of southern films has sent shivers down the spine of filmmakers
“Itni blockbuster ho rahi hai... forget Manoj Bajpayee and people like me for a minute, this sent a shiver down the spine of every mainstream filmmaker in the Mumbai film industry. They really don’t know where to look,” Bajpayee said. Delhi Time.
He went on to say that it was a “lesson for mainstream filmmakers in the Mumbai industry on how to make mainstream cinema”. Regarding the success of the Hindi-dubbed versions of Southern films, he said, “They’re shameless, they’re passionate, and every shot they take is like they’re taking the best picture in the world…Every frame is actually shot like if it was a life or death situation. That’s what we miss. We started thinking about mainstream movies only in terms of money and box office…”
Why do Southern films outperform Bollywood?
Almost all Southern films have been mass entertainers, with jaw-dropping action scenes. And it’s entirely reasonable to understand that after the Covid-19 restrictions, people are looking for action movies with larger-than-life heroes. This is one of the reasons Sanjay Dutt gave for producing such films in a recent interview. “I’ve been doing action for almost five decades now and with contemporaries, we started with heroism and heroic roles. I realized we just stopped making such films. And I try to bring that back to life,” he said.
Recently, actor Sudeep Sanjeev, commenting on the success of the Kannada film KGF: Chapter 2said, “Everyone says that a Kannada film has been made at pan-Indian level, but a small correction is that Hindi is no longer a national language”.
The comment was not well received by actor Ajay Devgn, who tagged the Kannada actor on Twitter and asked him why he was posting Hindi dubbed versions of movies made in his native language. “Hindi was, is and always will be our mother tongue and our national language,” wrote Devgn. The actor’s comment comes as no surprise given that he’s taken films that position him as a nationalist hero.
Hindi has never been and never will be our national language.
It is the duty of every Indian to respect the linguistic diversity of our country.
Each language has its own rich history that its people can be proud of.
I’m proud to be a Kannadiga!! https://t.co/SmT2gsfkgO
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) April 27, 2022
Image credit: Twitter/Siddaramaiah
RGV says the northern stars are jealous of the southern stars
The two actors then cleared up the misunderstanding and buried the hatchet. Meanwhile, director Ram Gopal Verma entered the debate and said that stars from the north are jealous of stars from the south. He tagged Sudeep and wrote, “Basic undeniable basic truth @KicchaSudeep sir is that northern stars are insecure and jealous of southern stars because a Kannada #KGF2 dub film had a 50 crore opening day and we are all going to see the next Hindi movies opening day.”
The unprecedented success of southern films in recent times should generate many reactions and open more debates. While someone like Abhishek Bachchan says we’re in the same industry and it’s a ‘wonderful time for the film industry’, Nawazuddin Siddiqui calls it a ‘phase’ that won’t have an impact on long term on Bollywood.
Experts will have their own understanding and explanation of the Southern movie boom, but one thing we as audiences expect from Bollywood is to move away from remakes and produce more originals. Since dubbed versions of most releases are now available, who will watch a remake?
Main image credit: Instagram/bachchan, Mythri Movie Makers