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Tollywood First Half 2022 Review

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The first half of 2022 came to an end and Tollywood had a mixed first half. After the country recovered well from coronavirus, the third wave attacked in January and all the biggies were pushed to summer. Nagarjuna and Naga Chaitanya’s Bangarraju was the only decent film in January. Though the film received a mixed response, the Sankranthi season helped the film well. February had 22 releases and Pawan Kalyan’s Bheemla Nayak ended up as a decent hit. DJ Tillu is the biggest hit among the small films this year. Ravi Teja’s Khiladi has been declared as a disaster.

March witnessed a series of flops. Adavallu Meeku Joharlu, Sebastian, ET, Standup Rahul and Radhe Shyam ended up as flops. Prabhas’ film Radhe Shyam failed to report decent numbers. SS Rajamouli continued his success streak with RRR. The film is declared a blockbuster in all the languages. RRR is the biggest hit of the country this year. Except KGF: Chapter 2, all the other releases in April ended up as flops. Varun Tej’s Ghani and Chiranjeevi, Ram Charan starrer Acharya lost trace at the box-office.

KGF: Chapter 2 is declared as a super hit and the film fared exceptionally well in Hindi and Kannada languages. Mahesh Babu’ Sarkaru Vaari Paata and Anil Ravipudi’s F3 have been decent among the May releases. Both these films recovered their investments and had a decent run. June also had a bunch of releases. Kamal Haasan made a massive comeback with Vikram and the film is a blockbuster. Adivi Sesh delivered one more hit with Major. The film also did decent in Hindi. Nani’s Ante Sundaraniki ended up as a disappointment. Rana and Sai Pallavi’s Virata Parvam failed to report decent openings.

Kannada film 777 Charlie is a smashing hit in Kannada and the film has been decent in Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi languages. A bunch of small-budget films like Sammathame, Chor Bazaar, Rowdy Boys, Hero, Good Luck Sakhi, Son of India, Mishan Impossible, Jayamma Panchayathi, Bhala Thandanana, Shekar, Godse, Konda, 7 Days 6 Nights and others ended up as flops. 2022 first half is a mixed bag for Tollywood.

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Will Tollywood follow the OTT Deadline?

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Tollywood producers are not on the same word about the OTT deals. The early digital release of Telugu films are having a huge impact on the theatrical run and a section of audience are not in a mood to watch the films in theatres. A series of meetings are conducted in the recent times and the first two of them did not end on a positive note. The recent meeting concluded after the producers agreed for 50 days gap between the theatrical and digital release. There is no unity among the producers as most of them are not bothered about the deadline.

The digital platforms too are offering huge amounts for the early OTT deals. Some of them are offering more prices after the film’s theatrical release. There should be strict guidelines issued by the Producers Council and they should be implemented at any cost to prevent further damage. With the theatrical market shrinking, several distributors are not ready to pay hefty prices and are not in a mood to ink non-refundable deals. Tollywood producers have to be strict on the OTT deals to save the theatrical market.

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OTT Releases: Tollywood producers lack Unity

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A bunch of big-budget Tollywood films headed for OTT release in three weeks after the theatrical release. There was a debate about the OTT deals killing the theatrical market. Tollywood producers several times announced that Telugu films should have a digital release only after 56 days of the theatrical release but it was never followed. A bunch of top producers met a couple of times in the recent weeks to discuss about the issue. Some of them wanted to impose a strict deadline for the digital release of any Telugu film.

But most of them did not agree for a strict cap for OTT release. Some of the producers cited that the heaping up budgets and the remunerations of stars made them to choose early OTT deals. There is no unity among the producers and they did not agree for the deals. For now, every producer is traveling in his own path when it comes to the OTT deals. We have to wait to see if the future talks end up positive so that there would be no threat to theatrical business in the future.

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Tollywood singer couple deny rumours of separation with humorous posts

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For the past few days, Telugu media has been buzzing with rumours that Tollywood singing duo Vedala Hemachandra and Sravana Bhargavi are about to call it quits on their nine-year marriage.

Now that the couple has dismissed the rumours, they have come up with quirky posts on their socials.

Hemachandra, a renowned playback singer and dubbing artist, has finally spoken out about reports that he and his wife Sravana Bhargavi, a well-known singer and TV anchor, are divorcing.

Hemachandra posted a humorous message on his Instagram account to deny all the rumours. “Unnecessary, irrelevant, stupid information spreads much faster than my independent songs”, Hemachandra’s topsy-turvy Instagram post reads.

Hemachandra’s wife, a singer too, Sravana Bhargavi, took to her Instagram to covey, “In the past few days, My Youtube views have gone up, My Instagram followers have increased, I’m getting more work than I usually do, I’m earning more than I usually do. Good call. Right or wrong, Media is a blessing Random Thought (sic)”

The couple tagged each other in their individual reactions to the split rumours, so they may now anticipate a calmer and more subdued response from the media.

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Ten films releasing in July

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The summer season came to an end and June too did not witness impressive hits except Vikram and Major. Tollywood will have a packed July as there are ten films hitting the screens. Gopichand’s Pakka Commercial and 10th Class Diaries are hitting the screens on July 1st. R Madhavan’s Rocketry: The Nambi Effect will have a pan-Indian release on July 1st. Energetic Star Ram will test his luck with The Warrior and the bilingual is heading for July 14th. Mythri Movie Makers attempted a small film Happy Birthday and the film will release on July 15th.

Satyadev and Tamannaah starrer Gurtunda Seethakalam will have a theatrical release on July 15th. Naga Chaitanya’s Thank You which was announced for July 8th is now pushed to July 22nd. Nikhil’s Karthikeya 2 is made on a massive budget and the film will release on 22nd. Kannada Superstar Kicha Sudeep’s film Vikrant Rona will have a theatrical release on July 28th and the trailer looked impressive. Ravi Teja’s Ramarao On Duty will release on the last Friday of the month. July is completely packed with several releases.

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Latest updates on Tollywood Strike

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The Tollywood dailywage workers have been protesting for a hike and all the Telugu film shoots have been kept on hold. The strikes continued for the second day but a series of crucial meetings were held and the daily wage workers of all the 24 crafts of Telugu cinema are expected to return back to work from tomorrow. The Producers Council promised to initiate talks and hike the wages only after the shoots resume. The Telugu film producers and the leaders of 24 crafts met Telangana Cinematography Minister Talasani Srinivasa Yadav separately. He wanted the issue to be settled amicably at the earliest.

A committee of Producers is formed and they will initiate talks with the workers and will announce the price hike. The producers also promised to implement the price hike from the day things get finalized. The shoots of more than 30 films have been stalled yesterday and today. The workers of Tollywood argued that the remunerations of the actors have been hiked even after the pandemic but their wages were not increased.

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Tollywood Shoots Stalled: New Updates

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All the daily wage workers of 24 crafts of Telugu cinema have been demanding a hike in their daily wages. With their demands not met, they imposed a deadline and they headed for a strike today. The Telugu Film Federation issued a strike notice and all the film shoots of Telugu cinema are now stalled. With the producers not responding about the hike, the daily wage workers decided not to attend the shoots. They are demanding a hike of 30 percent and issued an ultimatum about the hike.

The workers reached the Junior Artists Association in the morning and protested outside the office. They stopped the vehicles that were heading for shoots. A protest is planned before Film Federation. The members of the Producers Council are expected to meet in Film Chamber and discuss about the issue. The Producers Council members are expected to meet the workers today or tomorrow.

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Telugu film shoots coming to a Halt

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After the coronavirus pandemic, Telugu cinema is back on the track and is in recovery mode. Each and every actor is busy with multiple projects and they are shooting at a faster pace. When things are extremely going well, Tollywood received a shock. The shoots of all the Telugu films are expected to come to a halt from tomorrow. The daily wage workers are heading for a strike from tomorrow as their demands are not fulfilled. They have been demanding a hike in their daily wages for a long time but the Federation is yet to respond.

The workers issued a strike notice and the shoots will come to a halt from tomorrow. The final decision is not in the hands of the Federation as the producers will have to decide about the hike. All the top producers are expected to meet soon and take the final call before the strike hits Tollywood. The Federation is trying hard to resolve the issue at the earliest. The producers have to be quick and take the decision. Else, all the film shoots will come to a halt from tomorrow.

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Exclusive: Amazon’s next target is Tollywood

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Digital giants like Amazon Prime and Netflix have been focused on the Indian market because of the vast expansion of the digital market. Amazon Prime got in touch with Bollywood filmmakers, inked deals and signed top heroes like Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar. Netflix has been signing originals with successful filmmakers and are signing content-driven projects. Amazon Prime predicting the vast expansion of Indian cinema is now keen to focus and conquer regional cinema. Special teams are formed for Indian filmmakers and regional office spaces are set up to finalize projects in various South Indian films.

Amazon Prime’s next focus and target is Telugu cinema. A special creative team is in constant touch with top actors, directors and filmmakers. Some interesting collaborations are expected and the talks are on for now. Some big announcements are expected by the end of the year and the projects will commence shoot next year. Top Tollywood actors too are keen to venture into digital space soon. Venkatesh, Rana Daggubati and Naga Chaitanya already made their digital debut and the projects will be released soon.

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Producers’ Greed killing Theatrical Footfalls

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The digital platforms turned out to be the other major source of entertainment after the theatrical experience. The footfalls in theatres have been reducing gradually if you exclude films like RRR and KGF: Chapter 2 which are meant to experience on big screen. At this time, it is the responsibility of the filmmakers to save the theatrical business but they are over greedy and are not bothered about the future. When the OTT platforms are offering more, the filmmakers are selling off the digital rights and granting early digital streaming dates. The makers of Acharya recently pocketed Rs 18 crores for the early digital streaming.

Sarkaru Vaari Paata is now available on Amazon Prime and the film industry is left in shock by the move. Mythri Movie Makers is trolled for their move. The theatrical rights are sold for exorbitant prices and the films are heading for a digital release even before the distributors are recovering their investments. With the early digital release, a major section of audience are ready to wait for 2-3 weeks to watch the films at home instead of heading to theatres. The high ticket pricing is one more barrier for the audience. This strategy or trend is going to kill the theatrical business completely. It’s high time for the filmmakers to think twice about the future and save the theatrical market.

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Popular singer KK dies in Kolkata at 53

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Veteran singer KK had a live concert in Kolkata last evening and the 53-year-old singer collapsed at his hotel after the concert was completed. The doctors at CMRI Hospital announced that the singer was brought dead to the hospital. KK’s original name is Krishnakumar Kunnath and he has songs in Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada and Malayalam to his credit. He married his childhood friend Jyothi in the year 1991. KK is survived by his wife and two kids. His family members are expected to reach Kolkata this morning and his mortal remains are sent for post-mortem.

The entire nation is left in shock by the sudden demise of KK. Right from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to several film celebrities offered their condolences to the family of KK. He performed live at Nazrul Mancha in Kolkata yesterday evening. He sang close to 3000 songs in various Indian languages. He started his career in 1985 and he emerged as one of the leading singers in the nation. His fans, film fraternity and the people of the nation are in shock. Rest in peace KK.

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Will Tollywood follow Low Ticket Pricing Strategy?

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The hiked ticket price strategy is a mixed bag. A section of audience felt stressed and decided to stay watching films in theatres because of the hiked ticket price. After the governments of AP and Telangana granted flexible ticket pricing, several producers and distributors went over-excited and sold the tickets for high prices. Films like RRR and KGF: Chapter 2 are an exception and the audience watched these films in theatres and the hiked prices did not turn a barrier. The next set of films suffered badly as the footfalls fell low despite of the films receiving a decent response.

The low ticket pricing strategy worked for F3 and the film had a superb weekend. The family audience rushed to watch the film in theatres and the makers of Major are following the same strategy. Several other filmmakers are keen to release their films for decent ticket pricing and decided not to hike the prices. It would be a wise move to go on with low ticket pricing in the coming days as the digital platforms made enough damage for the theatrical revenues. Saving the theatrical market is the top priority for the filmmakers and hope Tollywood will think twice before hiking the ticket prices.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Sankranthi 2023: Six Films in Race

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Sankranthi 2022 ended up on a dull note because of the third wave of coronavirus pandemic. Sankranthi 2023 is expected to be packed with lot of releases. With seven months left, several films are aimed for release during the holiday season. As per the update, six Tollywood films are aimed for release during the Sankranthi season. Ram Charan and Shankar film produced by Dil Raju is expected to hit the screens during Sankranthi. Vijay and Vamshi Paidipally film too is getting ready for Sankranthi release. Dil Raju is keen to release one of these films during the season.

Mahesh Babu and Trivikram’s film will start rolling in July and the makers are keen to release the film during the festival season. Pawan Kalyan’s Hari Hara Veera Mallu, Megastar Chiranjeevi’s Bhola Shankar, Prabhas’ Adipurush and Vijay Deverakonda’s Kushi are aimed for Sankranthi 2023 release. The festival season will witness the release of at least three biggies next year. The final chart will be updated before the season.

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Tough Times for Small Films in Theatres

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RRR and KGF: Chapter 2 ended up as massive hits across the country and the audience watched the visual spectacles in theatres. Small films that released in the recent times did not fare well though the talk was impressive. Most of the audience are not ready to watch the films without stars in theatres. Vishwak Sen’s Ashoka Vanam Lo Arjuna Kalyanam received decent response but the film could not hold well on weekdays after a decent weekend run. Naga Shaurya’s Krishna Vrinda Vihari has been postponed twice after the release date has been announced. The distributors and exhibitors are not ready to buy small and medium-budget films for now considering the interest of the audience.

Rajasekhar’s Shekar is releasing next Friday and the makers are releasing the film on their own as they have no great theatrical deals. The filmmakers of small-budget films are left puzzled about when to release their films. June, July and August are packed with medium-budget films of tire two heroes. Several small films will find it tough to hit the screens in the coming months. By July or August, there would be a new bunch of medium-budget films getting ready. 2022 will have a tough time for small-budget films in theatres.

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Roshni Sahota to make Tollywood debut

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Actress Roshni Sahota, who has featured in TV shows such as ‘Shakti � Astitva Ke Ehsaas Ki’ and ‘Patiala Babes’, is delighted to make her Tollywood debut with the upcoming movie ‘O Kala’.

She says: ” I’m super excited for such a great experience and to begin a new journey in Tollywood. My upcoming film which means O Kala, i.e Oh my dream, is a great story. It will allow me to introduce myself and entertain new audiences. After being part of pollywood (Punjabi cinema) and Indian TV this is completely a new opportunity for me in terms of building my acting career in the entertainment industry.”

The poster of the movie which features Roshni Sahota and Gourish Yeleti was launched by popular filmmaker SS Rajamouli. The movie is written and directed by Deepak Kolipaka.

Roshni, reveals about her role, adds, “I’m playing the role of Harika. She is a strong headed, emotional individual who always respects and values a relationship.”

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AP Ticket Portal: Shock for Multiplex Chains

The government of Andhra Pradesh has been focused on the movie ticket prices and the sale of the tickets in the state. The ticket prices are revised recently after which the exhibition industry is on a recovery mode. The High Court of Andhra Pradesh granted permission to sell the movie tickets by AP Film Development Corporation (APFDC). The Multiplex Association of India filed a petition challenging the GO 142 issued by AP government last year. The GO told that the movie tickets have to be sold only through AP Film Development Corporation.

Most of the multiplex chains in the country have their own portals and platforms for ticket sales or they have been relying on Book My Show or Paytm. The AP High Court dismissed the petition and asked the government to go ahead with the ticket sale through APFDC. The further hearing in this case is pushed to July 12th. The Multiplex Association of India is in plans to approach the higher court soon.

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Not what the script said: Poor scripts lead to string of Tollywood failures after ‘Pushpa’, ‘RRR’

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Big stars, eminent directors and big budgets can’t guarantee success of a film and this has been proved by a string of failures in Tollywood after the smashing success of ‘Pushpa’.

Big stars, eminent directors and big budgets can’t guarantee success of a film and this has been proved by a string of failures in Tollywood after the smashing success of ‘Pushpa’.

The last four months saw several eagerly awaited movies hitting the screen but barring S.S. Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’ starring Junior NTR and Ram Charan, others either bombed at the box-office or registered average success.

Chiranjeevi, arguably the biggest name in Tollywood, could not guarantee a great opening for ‘Acharya’.

Starring megastar Chiranjeevi in the lead and his son Ram Charan in an extended cameo, the movie directed by Koratala Siva was released on April 29 to a lukewarm response at the box office. Negative reviews saw a huge drop in the movie’s collection in the first four days.

It disappointed even in Telugu states. In Andhra Pradesh it opened to increased ticket prices for the first week as per the policy of the state government for big-budget movies. However, so poor is the performance of ‘Acharya’ that trade analysts believe its business may end within this week.

Despite the hype around the movie due to the presence of the father-son duo and a large number of their fans thronging theatres in the first week-end, it failed to live up to the expectations.

Those who track Tollywood say that Acharya could end up as one of the biggest disasters of 2022.

A cliched story and dated narrative without effective emotions resulted in the huge disappointment for Chiranjeevi’s fans who had high expectations with this maiden collaboration between megastar and successful director Koratala Siva.

This was the second famous father-son duo to flop at the box-office. Earlier, this year ‘Bangarraju’ starring Nagarjuna and his son Naga Chaitanya came as a disappointment. While their fans were excited to see them together on the screen, this could not save the movie based on a done and dusted script of a supernatural drama. Kalyan Krishna made this as a sequel to ‘Soggade Chinni Nayana’ (2016) which starred Nagarjuna in a dual role and was commercially successful.

Another big disaster this year is ‘Radhe Shyam’ starring Baahubali fame Prabhas in the lead. The multi-lingual period romantic drama failed to live up to the high expectations.

Starring Prabhas in the role of a world-famous palmist, ‘Radhe Shyam’ in Telugu, Hindi and Tamil had hit the screens on March 11. Despite stunning visuals, grand outdoors, visual effects, romance and good music, the movie bombed due to cliched story.

‘Bheemla Nayak’ starring Pawan Kalyan and ‘Baahubali’ fame Daggubati Rana was another much-anticipated movie to hit the screens in February.

It was a Telugu remake of ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’ (2020), a Malayalam language action thriller. Unlike ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’, which was about clash of egos between two men, it was Pawan Kalyan who dominated ‘Bheemla Nayak’. Rana’s role was played down to allow power star, as the brother of Chiranjeevi is popularly known in film circles, take the centre stage.

Romantic comedy ‘DJ Tillu’ starring young actor Siddhu Jonnalagadda and Neha Shetty in the lead also did average business.

Leading actor Ravi Teja starrer ‘Khiladi’ turned out to be a flop. Released theatrically along with a Hindi dubbed version on February 11 this movie, written and directed by Ramesh Varma.

Industry analysts say poor script is the main reason for many Telugu films bombing at the box office after the grand success of ‘Pushpa’. “The strength of the script makes a film successful. If somebody comes with a loose script and uninteresting script, automatically the film flops. No matter how big a star is and how good a director is, it all depends on the strength of the script. Nobody can save a film if the script is poor,” says film analyst Prabhu.

He believes that a film can succeed only if the script makes the audience sit in theatres without losing their attention.

The film critic, however, adds that a subject a filmmaker chooses is not the entire story. “Whatever line you take, it needs to have some interesting scenes. 10-15 interesting scenes elevate a movie. Lack of strength in the scenes is the main cause of failure. There are no other reasons because the filmmaking standards are very high, wonderful and far ahead,” he opined.

The expert says one can’t blame artists for a film’s failure as all stars are proven artists. It all depends on the script and character an artist gets.

“We can’t blame artists. Actor is like water which takes the shape of a vessel. It all depends on the capability of the director, how best he moulds the character and how best he creates interest in the character,” he said.

According to Prabhu, even ‘Pushpa’ did not have a great script but the way Allu Arjun inculcated the strength, the density of character, a rough and tough wild character and his mannerism helped. “This film has highlighted the smuggler’s character and glorified it. This shows the film does well even if the bad character is portrayed in an intensive and interesting manner,” he added.

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Stories, Emotions, Action, Star Power: Success formula of southern cinema

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Emotions, strong content, captivating storytelling, great visual effects, breathtaking action scenes and star cast from across movie industries is what is making some multilingual films from South rock at the box-office in recent times and emerge as pan-India movies.

From ‘Baahubali’ to ‘KGF 2’, all the blockbusters have a common element of emotions while creativity by the filmmakers with the use of the state-of-the-art technology and action added to their success.

Filmmakers and others connected with Tollywood attribute the new trend of pan-India movies to the availability of various social media and OTT platforms helping the audience to make informed choices and the new means of communication facilitating fast spread of the word about movies with good stories irrespective of the languages they are made in.

They hailed the new trend which removed the language barrier and offered a level-playing field to regional film industries and the actors and artists. The filmmakers believe this trend augurs well for the new generation.

The trend of dubbing movies in multiple languages, including Hindi, and releasing simultaneously all over India started with ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ (2015) directed by S. S. Rajamouli, who went beyond the Telugu states to tap other regional and Hindi markets and even international opportunities.

Two years later came its sequel ‘Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’ which broke all the records to emerge as the highest-grossing movie with reported collections of over Rs 500 crore in Hindi.

The two-part epic-fantasy franchise not only marked the arrival of Tollywood on the big platform but set a new trend of filmmaking in India.

Though simultaneously made in Telugu and Tamil, it was dubbed in Malayalam and Hindi, targeting the entire Indian market. It dazzled movie lovers beyond boundaries and was even dubbed in Japanese, Russian and Chinese.

After Tollywood, it was the turn of Kannada film industry to continue the crossover trend with ‘KGF: Chapter 1’ in 2018. Written and directed by Prashanth Neel and starring Yash in the lead, it brought recognition to Kannada industry, which was not considered strong like Telugu and Tamil film industries.

Like ‘Baahubali-2’, the sequel of KGF ‘KGF: Chapter 2’ broke new records to become third highest grosser in Hindi in two weeks.

‘KGF: Chapter 2’, released in Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu, also stars Sanjay Dutt and Raveena among many others.

Tollywood continued its march in the new trend with director Sukumar’s ‘Pushpa: The Rise’ featuring superstar Allu Arjun in the lead.

Released pan-India in December 2021, the film has already grossed a whopping Rs 365 crore. ‘Pushpa-2’ , which is set to commence production soon, is expected to follow in the footsteps of ‘Baahubali’ and ‘KGF’ series.

Last month , Rajamouli came back to recreate his magic with ‘RRR’ starring Ram Charan Teja and Junior NTR along with Bollywood stars Ajay Devgan and Alia Bhatt.

These movies started a new trend. It was no longer filmmakers picking a hit Telugu or Tamil film and re-making it in Hindi with Bollywood star cast.

Since re-making regional films starring actors like Rajinikanth, Chiranjeevi, Vikram, Surya into Hindi costs huge sums, the producers started dubbing as it was the cheapest way to reach a larger audience.

While dubbing of Tamil, Telugu and other regional films and even Hollywood films into Hindi is not new, the availability of digital technology has made the process smooth and the mixing of various ingredients has ensured success.

Filmmaker Laxman Murari termed this a new trend of making grandeur films. He pointed out that television channels every day show six-seven South Indian movies dubbed in Hindi but not every dubbed version is liked by people.

“Today, I can find 100 movies on different online platforms in no time. With the increase in the number of platforms, the awareness about movies increased,” he said.

The audience wants greater enjoyment in a small time and with less expenditure. This is why even 10-30 second videos have become immensely popular.

Laxman, who is engaged with dubbing of several films, pointed out that unlike in the past when dubbing had several challenges like lip synchronisation, the digital technology has helped overcome them.

Another filmmaker DR B K Kiran Kumar is of the view that audiences don’t want to watch family dramas in theatres as they can watch any number of ‘saas bahu’ stories on multiple television channels.

“Family drama films can’t run in theatres also because of increasing ticket prices. Who will spend Rs.500 to Rs.1000 for the first day show to watch family dramas. The audience wants to watch movies with great visuals and sound effects,” he said.

He pointed out that ‘Baahubali’ is just a folktale but it was made as a visual wonder with several scenes like Hollywood movies. Similarly ‘RRR’ is a normal subject but Rajamouli made it a fiction and visual wonder made with Independence and British backdrop. ‘KGF’ is an action oriented movie with special effects. However, he believes these movies are much more than mere visual wonders

According to Kiran Kumar, who is a faculty professor at a leading filmmaking institute in Hyderabad, the first preference in storytelling is emotion and that’s where all these movies clicked.

‘Baahubali’ is all about emotions between two brothers and between ‘saas’ and ‘bahu’ inspired by Ramayana and Mahabharata stories. ‘Pushpa’ is also about emotions. In ‘KGF’ you find emotions of a mother while ‘RRR’ is based on patriotic emotions

“In these movies, everything is connected to Indian culture and Indian emotions. Everything is India be it dance, songs and costumes,” he said

Though multi-lingual ‘Saaho’ and ‘Radhe Shyam’ starring ‘Baahubali’ fame Prabhas were big-budget movies, they did not meet with much success. When emotions don’t connect, people won’t accept movies irrespective of the language, explained Kiran Kumar.

Tollywood has contributed three out of five pan-India blockbusters. Tollywood observers say it is the second largest film industry in the country after Hindi.

The Telugu film industry makes 250-275 movies every year. About 175 films are made in Telugu while about 100 films are dubbed from other languages. The budget varies from Rs 1-2 crore to Rs 200 crore.

Every year 25-30 Hindi movies are made with a Rs 100 crore budget while the number of Tollywood movies in this bracket will be around 12. Tamil industry ranks third in this category with 3-4 films.

The changes in direction are also attributed to technological development. “Previously with negatives and reels, filmmaking was very costly and with limited budget, filmmakers had to do the tight rope walking. With everything digitised today, we can take hundreds of retakes and all these will be stored in chips or memory cards,” said Kiran Kumar

“With OTT, world cinema is in our hands. People are watching quality cinema and quality stories. They watch the movies in the languages they are made in but with subtitles they understand the soul of the story,” he said

Kiran considers this as a good beginning which will continue. He, however, believes that in the next 3-5 years there will be no-pan India movies, there will only be Indian movies. Any language film can beat all if it has good content and story. “You will have a movie where the main character can be from Tamil and Telugu, the villain could be somebody from Bollywood and there can be other characters from other regional movies,” said the director.

He also believes that since single-screen theatres have disappeared and there are all multiplexes with 3-4 screens, a situation may come where films in different languages will be screened simultaneously.

He pointed out that there are three aspects in filmmaking – art, creativity and business. Producers see it from the business aspect, filmmakers see creativity while common people see the art aspect.

On the flip side, he believes, pan-India movies can limit the opportunities for local talent. Filmmakers will hire the best talent from around the world. “A cinematographer can come from China, a fight master from the US, another technician from London or Japan. The opportunities for Indian technicians especially in regional cinema will come down. The local talent will be only for junior artists and small work,” he said.

Kiran also faulted the trend of filmmakers boasting their movie budgets to create a hype. “These days, no producer or director is saying that we will come out with a good story. They are announcing we will make Rs.300 crore, Rs.500 crore or Rs.700 crore budget movies with x, y, z actors,” he said and cautioned that a big budget with some big star can’t guarantee success without a strong story.

He said people were laughing at those making movies with a budget of Rs 1 or Rs 2 crore. “People talk about super hit movies like Baahubali, KGF, RRR made with big budgets but what about hundreds of movies made in between,” he asked.

He said even if a movie is made with a small budget but has a good story, it is getting recognition. He cited the example of Marathi movie ‘Sairat’ which was made with Rs 50 lakh but became the highest-grossing Marathi film of all time.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

South Indian stars on the ascendant as Bollywood’s are on the wane

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For the first time ever, an array of stars who are neither Khans, Kapoors, Kumars or a Devgn for that matter, are headlining several Bollywood blockbusters. For a change, a veritable army of south Indian silver screen demigods is setting the Hindi box office on fire.

The stream of pan-India movies starring male actors from South Indian states throws the spotlight on a breed of new gen stars like Dhanush, Dulqer Salman, Ram Charan, NTR, Yash, Sudeep, Prabhas, Rana, Vijay Devarakonda, and Allu Arjun.

First it was Telugu stars Prabhas and Rana that captured the imagination of an entire nation when ace director SS Rajamouli’s epic ‘Bahubali’ unleashed its magic in two instalments. A mythological thriller was something that Hindi mainstream cinema has never explored seriously. The portrayal of characters of epic proportions was eagerly lapped up by Hindi audiences.

Even before Hindi audiences could get over the ‘Bahubali’ experience, came the smashing success of ‘Pushpa – The Rise’ starring Allu Arjun. The raw emotions portrayed by the Telugu star held audiences across the country in thrall.

Just when everyone felt that things couldn’t get better, came along SS Rajamouli with ‘RRR’ starring scions of the NTR and Chiranjeevi clans – Jr NTR and Ram Charan. The hype surrounding the movie didn’t disappoint and the movie went on to create magic at the Hindi box office. Surprisingly, despite a distinctively Telugu background and setting, the movie managed to bring in audiences across the country.

By now, it was amply clear that Hindi audiences just can’t have enough of south Indian cinema. And the South didn’t disappoint either. But for a change, instead of yet another Telugu movie, it was Sandalwood’s turn to entice Hindi audiences. ‘KGF – Chapter 2’ starring Kannada star Yash has been on a record-breaking spree ever since it released in April.

More pan-India releases are on the anvil, including ‘Vikram Rona’ starring Sandalwood star Kiccha Sudeep, and ‘Liger’ starring Vijay Devarakonda.

In Hyderabad, noted film critic and industry expert Prabhu points out that the success and acceptance that ‘Bahubali’ enjoyed with audiences across India, especially the Hindi heartland, turned out to be the trigger for south Indian film makers to think big. “It was only after Bahubali, that producers here realised the true potential of the market and started working on it with aggressive branding and promotional activities,” he explains.

Secondly, the proliferation of satellite movie channels, OTT platforms and other media have literally broken traditional barriers to acceptance that factors such as language and culture. “For many years now, stars like Allu Arjun, or NTR or Ram Charan have been familiar faces due to their successful dubbed versions. So, a direct Hindi theatrical release is an extension of their presence in that market. They are already known and loved faces,” Prabhu elaborates.

More importantly, the current breed of south Indian stars venturing onto the pan-Indian stage, confidently wear their cultural roots on their sleeves. They are not trying to look nor ape conventional Bollywood stars in the looks department. Instead the strategy is to leverage on their unique looks and acting talent.

The results are there on screen. Dhanush made his Bollywood debut with ‘Ranjhanaa’ and went on to pit himself against Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Shamitaabh’ before making his third foray into Bollywood with ‘Atrangi Re’.

Interestingly, a majority of the stars hail from established film dynasties in the south. Dulqer Salman is Malayalam cinema superstar Mammootty’s son, while Dhanush is from a leading Tamil film family and has recently separated from his wife who happens to be superstar Rajinikanth’s daughter.

Elsewhere in the south, it’s very much a similar story. From Allu Arjun, the son of noted producer Allu Arjun, Ram Charan who is Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi’s son, Jr NTR who happens to be Telugu acting legend NTR’s grandson, and Prabhas who is actor Krishnam Raju’s nephew, to Rana who hails from the D Rama Naidu film family, most of the stars happen to be people who can afford to think big and take calculated risks.

“Having a support system helps these stars withstand temporary setbacks. Moreover, all these stars have a good 10-15 years of grounding in their respective industries which gives them an advantage when it comes to sensing the opportunities and setbacks,” Prabhu states.

Observers point out that it was, in fact, Rana’s connections that helped ‘Bahubali’ gain traction with Bollywood bigwigs like Karan Johar. And the rest, as they say, is history.

While it’s certainly a good time for south Indian film stars to try their luck in Bollywood, they also need to see the writing on the wall. After his dream pan-India debut in ‘Bahubali’ Prabhas went on to sign a couple of big ticket projects, all of which failed to register box office success. It only goes to underline the fact that script, screenplay and production values are more important than star value. Something which mainstream Bollywood had apparently lost track of in between.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Post-summer in Tollywood is packed

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Summer 2022 is expected to be the biggest for Tollywood. Several biggies like RRR, Acharya, Sarkaru Vaari Paata, KGF: Chapter 2 and others are testing their luck. With summer jam-packed with a heap of releases, several films featuring young actors are now getting announced for June and July releases. A bunch of announcements are made in recent week. The release chart for the post-summer months is filling on a faster note. Some of the films are even gearing up for August and September release. Here is the updated release chart for June, July and August for Telugu films:

June:

3rd: Kamal Haasan’s Vikram
10th: Nani’s Ante Sundaraniki
17th: Ravi Teja’s Ramarao On Duty

July:

1st: Gopichand’s Pakka Commercial
1st: Vaisshnav Tej’s Rangaranga Vaibhavamga
8th: Nithiin’s Macherla Niyojakavargam
14th: Ram’s The Warrior
22nd: Naga Chaitanya’s Thank You

August:

12th: Akhil Akkineni’s Agent
25th: Vijay Deverakonda’s Liger

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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