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Bollywood production houses head South for greener pastures

Published on : July 12, 2012
Bollywood production houses head South for greener pastures

Shobhana Nair, Bloomberg UTV.

Rajinikanth’s upcoming big budget movie – Kochadaiyan
The Tamil remake of Band Baaja Baarat & Delhi Belly
Tamil Superstar Vikram’s next film – Thaandavam

… the one common thing about these movies is that the Hindi film studios which are producing them, are pumping in the moolah. And it seems like they have good reason to do so!

After Bollywood, the Tamil movie market is the second biggest in the country. Down south, both Tamil and Telugu movies command a share of 18 % each in the southern market. However, currently Tamil cinema seems to be the flavour of the season, as it looks like an attractive market with technical expertise and creative minds coming out to fabulous stories.   

In an interview with Bloomberg UTV, Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios said, “after Hindi, it’s Tamil which is the biggest. Stories are original and rooted. We can’t ignore the Tamil film industry.”

So, while the potential in the Tamil film industry is huge, for studios it is also part of their business strategy as they get to diversify and de-risk their investments. Also, with non-availability of the big bankable Bollywood stars, the producers have started looking for greener pastures. For instance, UTV Motion Pictures has been actively investing in Tamil movies by not just distributing, but also producing them. And an encouraging response has made them expand further. In May this year, UTV Motion Pictures made their debut in Malayalam movies with 'Grandmaster'. They wanted to enter the market with a bang, so it was only logical to rope in Mohanlal, Malayalam cinema's biggest superstar.

Speaking to Bloomberg UTV, Siddharth Roy Kapur, MD – Studios, Disney UTV said, “if you are entering the market, it’s important that the local talent knows that we are serious and are here to stay.”

It is not just UTV; in the past few years, Reliance Entertainment too has churned out Tamil movies one after the other. One of the main factors attracting the studios is that the budget of a Tamil film is much lower compared to a Hindi movie. In addition, if a movie does well, the returns will be huge. Also, the business model in Tamil movies is slightly different because unlike Hindi movies, which now depend heavily on satellite, music & overseas rights, theatrical collections of Tamil cinemas from single screens still constitute a major chunk of the revenues.  This means, Tamil movies stay longer in cinema halls, and the revenues come in larger numbers.

At the same time, while the A-list Bollywood stars command a huge profit sharing ratio; this trend has still not caught on in the Tamil film industry. Another advantage in the southern film market is that piracy is fully under control in states like Tamil Nadu, which of course helps in getting more revenue.

“Piracy is under check there not only because of legislation but there’s consumer activism too. Several fan clubs raid theatres and make sure that piracy is under control,” Siddharth Roy Kapur, MD – Studios, Disney UTV told the channel.

So which are the other names foraying into Tamil markets?  Fox Star Studios which is still trying to manage its foothold in Hindi films, co-produced a small budget non-starrer Tamil Movie – Engeyum Epoddum with Ghajini director A R Murgudoss. The movie made on a budget of Rs 5 crore, collected Rs 20 crore at the box office. Fox has now entered into a multiple movie deal with Murugadoss where he will creatively produce movies for them every year.

Also, caught by the lure of the south is one of Hindi cinema's biggest studios- Yash Raj Films, who have decided to venture into Tamil movies by remaking their own hits - the 2010 release Band Baaja Baarat will be the first movie under their banner. And the list isn’t over yet! The biggest Rajinikant movie this year – Kochadaiyaan is being produced by Eros International. As the movie will be using the advanced technology, it has a budget of more than Rs 100 crore.

For studios, their southern sojourn may have begun with a bang, but going ahead, there will be challenges too. And even if the journey seems to be a bit tough, it still provides a huge opportunity for the Tamil film industry to learn a thing or two from its Bollywood counterparts.

The Tamil film industry seems poised to get that much needed push from the B-town – be it financial support or professional expertise, but will the studios be able to tap all the creative potential in this market? Well it could be a long road ahead before they can declare that they have arrived in the South! click here

 

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