Cinemas pin hopes on South Indian films

Theatre owners across India are pinning hopes on South Indian films to kickstart 2021 and build on the process of recovery started by Hollywood titles Tenet and Wonder Woman.

Besides Tamil superstar Vijay's action film Master, which is being dubbed in Hindi and is all set for a Pongal (Jan 14) release, three Telugu films are expected to do well - Krack starring Ravi Teja, Ram Pothineni's Red and AlluduAdhurs, starring B. Sai Sreenivas, Nabha Natesh and Anu Emmanuel. Exhibitors are hoping these commercially-entertaining films will appeal to audiences across the country, reported The Print.

From Salman Khan's Radhe to Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi, many big Bollywood ventures are expected to be released this year. Yet, all eyes are on Master. It is expected to be a moneymaker because it will be shown on the big screen and is being dubbed in Hindi.

Grand Master, a company owned by producer Vikas Sahni, has got distribution rights for the Tamil, Telugu and Hindi versions of Master outside South India.

Film trade analysts said Mr Sahni has plans to distribute more dubbed versions of South Indian films.

According to Money Control, his focus seems to be right as the market for dubbed Hindi versions of South Indian films is strong.

For example, while Baahubali: The Beginning minted around Rs119 crore from its Hindi dubbed version, the sequel, Baahubali: The Conclusion, garnered as much as Rs500 crore from the Hindi version alone. The 2018 release 2.0 starring Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar earned more than Rs 80 crore from its Hindi version.

South Indian films are generating buzz across India. The 10 most tweeted about movies in 2020 were South Indian movies.

"South Indian movies have an aura of their own and therefore will definitely have a role to play in the overall recovery process of the industry," said Mr Rajender Singh Jyala, chief programming officer at INOX Leisure.

Mr Kunal Sawhney, senior vice-president at Carnival Cinemas, said big-ticket titles like Master are likely to get great traction in cities such as Indore, Ahmedabad, Jalandhar and Mumbai because they have plenty of students and professionals who migrated from the South.

The Pongal and Baisakhi (April 14) weekends are good for cinema ticket sales.

They contributed to the healthy opening weekend box-office receipts of films such as Rajinikanth's Darbar (Tamil), Ajay Devgn's Tanhaji - The Unsung Warrior (Hindi), Mahesh Babu's Sarileru Neekevvaru (Telugu) and Allu Arjun's Ala Vaikunthapurramloo (Telugu) in January 2020.

"Tamil and Telugu producers and stars have a smaller but stronger in-built fan base (within their home states) that assures them of certain box-office returns within the first three days of release," said Mr Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures.

Mr Sawhney said 90 per cent of the box-office earnings of a Tamil or Telugu film come from the home state while Bollywood has to depend on pan-India earnings, which are still uncertain with cinemas yet to reopen in states like Rajasthan and Jharkhand.

"The film exhibition sector is yet to find its mojo but the ball will be set in motion with South Indian films by February and the momentum will peak by March. And then it will be only a matter of time before big Hindi films are also released in big numbers," said Mr Gianchandani.

Indo-Asian News Service

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