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The Brilliant Rise of South Indian Cinema

Dec 28, 2022 02:00PM ● By Anand Subramanian

The film business in South India has seen a dramatic transformation due to the advent of ambitious, all-India films with ever-increasing production values. The film industry in South India is more active than ever. Southern players in many sectors have established themselves as industry leaders in the last several years. Even before the epidemic, Hindi films had to compete with dubbed Hollywood films and regional material. In recent years, there has been a peak in favor of South Indian films that use Bollywood actors. South Indian movies used to play solely in their home areas, but now producers are hoping to expand their reach. 


We've all heard the phrase "content is king;" movies from the South provide a wealth of material, sometimes with surprising or unusual slants, that is sure to please any viewer. South Indian movies excel in this respect. In particular, viewers of Tamil and Telugu films are not confused. They made a wide net for potential customers to swim through. They don't bother making films for small subsets of the population. 

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One of India's most prominent film filmmakers, S.S. Rajamouli foretold Bollywood's downfall in his 2015 film Baahubali: The Beginning. The ascendancy of the Southern film industry over Bollywood may be attributed to several factors, including the commercial success of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017) and KGF: Chapter 1 (2018), the advent of OTT, and Bollywood's muddled storytelling. Not only are South Indian actors and actresses gaining popularity, but this trend is spreading outside their region. It's also because the film industry in South India is progressive and innovative. The advent of Covid has made social media more important, and professionals in the film business have seen that the traditional model for marketing and distributing movies has been upended by the arrival of over-the-top (OTT) platforms alongside classic theater releases. 

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In the past, only around five or seven films from the South were dubbed into Hindi each year. The current count is far above 50. There used to be fewer successful South Indian films, but now there are many more. Following the release of Covid-19, several films, including KGF: Chapter 2, Pushpa: The Rise, RRR, Sita Ramam, Kantara, Vikram, and the Tamil adaptation of Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, have seen massive financial success. 

The status quo has been upended in Tamil films before. In the 1980s, a young man with the Midas touch transformed Bollywood's biggest stars into credible performers and created groundbreaking films that thrilled audiences and critics. Films directed by Mani Ratnam were not only commercially successful but also regarded as works of art that would stand the test of time because of how well they captured the spirit of their respective eras, the harsh realities of their locations, and the intimate dynamics of their families. Even though some logical inconsistencies were introduced into the stories during translation, the Hindi dubs were still well received. For example, Roja's poignancy stems from the story of a girl who is lost and alone in a land whose language she doesn't know and the bonds she forms with the only two people in the land who speak her language. 

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RajinikanthDhanushMahesh Babu, and Nagarjuna are the OGs of South Indian Cinema, and they first drew an audience from North India. However, the winds of change brought the new generation of actors and actresses to the forefront, and they quickly became the heroes of Cinema. SandalwoodKollywoodTollywood, and Mollywood have all contributed to the growth of South Cinema, which has recently surpassed Bollywood in popularity. Today, when we present Allu ArjunYash, or Ram Charan, we do not hesitate to call them the crown jewels of Indian Cinema without a second thought to their origin industry. You might also argue that these jewels have conquered the Khans. How? At first, only costly films or those starring the Khan family made it over the 100-crore mark. Recent years, however, have seen the rise of South Indian Cinema's "Biggies" to the top of the box office charts. 

Lately, RRR earned over 1,000 crores (or around $1,300,000,000) worldwide, including over $300,000,000 in dubbed Hindi sales. And within a month, South Cinema filmed Biggie KGF Chapter 2, which grossed over $1 billion worldwide and broke several box offices records. In only 20 days, it earned more than Rs 1065.52 crore at the box office throughout the globe. The success of Pushpa:The Rise even trumped Ranveer Singh's star-studded 83. Jersey's producers rescheduled the release date after realizing it would compete with KGF 2, which stars Shahid Kapoor and Mrunal Thakur. While moviegoers go crazy for the buzz, South Indian Cinema delivers on every front: excellent writing, top-notch acting, and nail-biting thrills. 

Things have progressed to the point where the Hindi film industry seems to be pulling itself together and generating better material.

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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