Is Bollywood's dominance coming to an end?
Some tend to say that the fire ignited against nepotism forced the Hindi-speaking spectators to repel mainstream Hindi films.
The breath-taking success of "Pushpa: The Rise"(the biggest hit in 2021) outshone the Akshay Kumar-starrer "Sooryavanshi", with a box office collection of Rs 234 crores by its second week. South Indian productions have landed back-to-back chartbusters, currently reigning over the audience usually captured by the Bollywood demographic.
After the pandemic, the last few months have been a treat for cinema-goers, as much-awaited productions such as the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial biographical crime drama "Gangubai Kathiawadi" and Sajid Nadiadwala's action-comedy "Bachchhan Paandey", graced the silver screen. Among all others, "Kashmir Files" stole the show with an unexpected box office collection, despite lingering on a notably smaller budget.
Despite such high-budget Bolly-productions, SS Rajmouli directorial blockbuster "RRR" worked against all odds as it broke all records after securing over Rs 1000 crores worldwide upon release. The epic period drama, featuring N T Rama Rao Jr, Ram Charan and Alia Bhatt, is said to best even "Bahubali" when it comes to achieving realistic perfection in crafting its VFX.
Not only did the film trend in theatres located in the southern part of India, but it ruled over silver screens worldwide.
Riding along this high tide, the second installment of Prashanth Neel's widely awaited sequel "KGF: Chapter 2" is also looking forward to a massive box office collection in the following weeks. The Yash-starrer, which has already collected Rs 138 crore on its opening day, is set to beat its previous records, only rivalled Thalapathy Vijay's "Beast".
While these box office whoopers are garnering much appreciation for their production quality, acting performances, and even music, fans have also been waiting eagerly for the Hindi remakes of south-based productions. Shahid Kapoor's sports drama "Jersey", which is a remake of the Nani-starrer production of the same name, and Pushkar–Gayathri's neo-noir action-thriller "Vikram Vedha", featuring Saif Ali Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Radhika Apte, are also waiting for a theatrical release.
In fact, some of the biggest Bollywood blockbusters, such as "Wanted", "Kabir Singh", and "Drishyam", are remakes of much appreciated south productions.
However, the special mention goes to the portrayal of strong female characters on the screen. With item number like "Oo Antava", which itself revolts against the male chauvinistic society that objectifies women for commercial cinematic success, recent South Indian productions often seem to challenge gender stereotypes.
Nevertheless, the most impactful strategy that has brought about the South Indian productions to the audience is the process of proper dubbing in Hindi and other languages. While previously, the films were dubbed in Hindi after being released in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, or Malayalam, the Hindi versions are now released nationwide, simultaneously. Even some of the actors have stepped up to dub the Hindi versions in their own voices to deliver an authentic experience for the audience.
Some tend to say that the fire ignited against nepotism forced the Hindi-speaking spectators to repel mainstream Hindi films. There is no doubt that Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam productions leave no stone unturned when it comes to plot construction, production, and acting quality, or simply the essence of showcasing characters that are larger than life. The recent trends in Indian silver screens indicate that there has been a shift in the preference of the audience.
Be it the "Rocky" (KGF), Pushpa (Allu Arjun), or "Bheem" (RRR), the characters are seen to possess massive physical strength. Paired with style and swagger, the South Indian actors are seen to perform brilliantly on screen. While these actors were 'unfit' to meet the beauty standards set by Bollywood, their performance seem to build heavy leverage on Bollywood superstars these days.
Looking back into its history and heritage, Bollywood, which borrowed the core of its existence from Hollywood, an actual film city located in the States, the Mumbai-based film city seems more like the syndicate of some of the most powerful names in the history of Indian cinema. While products of nepotism have always received a warm welcome into this industry, South-stars, except for a few like Rajinikanth and Nagarjuna, have never managed to survive the drill, until the coin was flipped.
Looking at the current upsurge, it seems like the South Indian makers, actors, and production teams have now pledged to deliver nothing but brilliance for their viewers. That leaves us with the question: Will Bollywood be able to step up its pace and leave behind its old ways or will the South keep ruling over the Bollywood audience, leaving them with no space to breathe or rebuild?