South Indian cinema is booming, and this is apparent if one were to look at the screens in, for instance, Tamil Nadu. Most of them show Tamil language cinema, and even in a megalopolis like Chennai – which has a really huge Hindi speaking population – some Hindi movies never hit theatres. The most recent example of this Mr Joe B Carvalho, an Arshad Warsi comedy. Exhibitors in the city would rather show a Tamil film and hope for greater ticket sales than a Hindi or an English movie that may not do as well.
A still from the movie Raja Rani. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/rajaranithefilm)
Big production companies, like Disney UTV Studios and Fox Star Studios, having got wind of this, plan to focus more on South Indian cinema this year. Both have announced several projects.
Disney will produce or co-produce four movies in Tamil and one in Telugu. The Tamil works will be: Naan Sigappu Manithan, starring Vishal and Laxmi Menon; an untitled project with Tamil superstar Suriya; Sigram Thodu starring Vikram Prabhu, Sathyaraj (who played Deepika Padukone's father in the 2013 blockbuster, Chennai Express) and Purampokku with Arya, Vijay Sethupathi and Karthika. Superstar Mahesh Babu’s not-yet-titled Telugu will also go on the floors this year.
Last year, Disney produced three Tamil films, Settai, Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru and Ivan Veramathiri. All did well at the boxoffice.
Fox will partner with Thirukumaran Entertainment to produce Mundasupatti and Cuckoo. Recently, the studio delivered a runaway hit with Raja Rani.
An important reason for Bollywood houses to look beyond the Vindhyas is low cost of production. Also, smaller budgets and wider theatrical window help a film turn in better profits.