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Southern Invasion: How South Indian Cinema Took Over Bollywood

Southern Invasion: How South Indian Cinema Took Over Bollywood

The Hindi film industry, with its marquee production houses, megastars and marketing prowess, is proving to be a feeble competitor to the movies emerging from South India. Our cover story this fortnight explores this rise of movies from South India which has changed the basic, and accepted, tenets of success in Indian moviemaking.

A fundamental change in the landscape of Indian cinema is underway -- the rise of movies from South India, which has changed the tenets of success in Indian moviemaking. A fundamental change in the landscape of Indian cinema is underway -- the rise of movies from South India, which has changed the tenets of success in Indian moviemaking.

When the full house at an upscale Mumbai multiplex gets up, applauds and whistles during a climactic action sequence in a Hindi-dubbed Telugu blockbuster, you know something is fundamentally changing. The S.S. Rajamouli directorial, RRR, the movie in question here, is one among a series of films from south India that have taken the box office by storm, changing the basic tenets of success in Indian moviemaking. The Hindi film industry, with its marquee production houses, megastars and marketing prowess, is proving to be a feeble competitor to the southern juggernaut. Sample this: a CII South Media & Entertainment report says 62 per cent of the all-India box office collections of movies in 2021 came from south Indian films. And this trend is getting stronger. According to estimates, KGF: Chapter 2, the Kannada action movie, garnered Rs 435 crore in its Hindi-dubbed version, while the dubbed versions of RRR and Pushpa: The Rise Part-1 raked in Rs 265 crore and Rs 106 crore, respectively. Bollywood, which has been wooing multiplex audiences over the past few years, has seen the single-screen audiences—who comprise the bulk of moviegoers in India—rush to theatres across the country to watch these south Indian action films.

In this Business of Entertainment special issue, the cover story by Vidya S. and Prerna Lidhoo delves into the economics of the south Indian moviemaking tsunami that is threatening to turn conventional movie math on its head. South Indian producers are engaging super smart marketing brains and even conducting pre-production surveys of audience tastes to understand what moviegoers want to watch as entertainment preferences change irrevocably post-pandemic.

But this issue has much, much more than movies. We decode the OTT boom and the boost streaming platforms got thanks to the lockdown. Sohini Mitter examines how the sports streaming space will witness fierce competition between the likes of Disney+ Hotstar, which recently lost the digital rights to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament, and Mukesh Ambani’s Viacom18, which won those rights for India by coughing up Rs 23,758 crore for a five-year period. She also brings you the fascinating story of the rise of casual gaming, as the 450-million casual gamers make it a massive `15,000-crore market. We get you all this, and much more, in this comprehensive package of stories.

This issue also has a deep dive by Arnab Dutta into how Swiss foods major Nestlé’s Indian arm, led by Suresh Narayanan, is charting out its 2.0 avatar, with a detailed plan to expand into the highly competitive and value-conscious rural market. This apart, Binu Paul examines the challenges faced by BYJU’S, the world’s most valued edtech start-up, as it struggles with bleeding subsidiaries and the funding winter. How storied entrepreneur Byju Raveendran navigates this phase will be interesting to watch.