South Indian Films vs Bollywood: The Battle of 2024

Bollywood remains the dominant force in the Indian film industry, but South Indian films are not far behind, as they showcase the regional variety to the global audience. And this year, South Indian cinema is challenging Bollywood like never before, with its regional variety of Indian cinema
By Geeta Singh
  • Bollywood had a mixed bag of films in 2023, with some creating history and others losing money
  • ‘Jawan’ and ‘Pathaan’ were the biggest hits, while ‘RRKPK’, ‘Ganpath’, and ‘Adipurush’ were the biggest duds
  • Bollywood’s box office collection was slightly higher in 2023 than the previous year, industry is seeing some trends and changes
  • The South Indian film industry has overtaken Bollywood in prominence, and has attracted investments from international studios

THE year 2023 ended with a bang, as two of the biggest stars of Indian cinema, Shah Rukh Khan and Prabhas, faced off at the box office with their respective films, ‘Dunki’ and ‘Salaar: Part One- Ceasefire’. The result was a one-sided affair, as ‘Salaar’, which was released on December 22, became the highest-grossing film of the year, breaking the records of several other films. Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Dunki’, which came out a day before ‘Salaar’, could only rake in Rs 30 crore on its opening day. Prabhas’ film surpassed the opening day collections of Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Jawan’ and ‘Pathaan’, Salman Khan’s ‘Tiger 3’ and Ranbir Kapoor’s ‘Animal’, making it the top opener of the year. ‘Pathaan’ had collected Rs 57 crore on its opening day and ‘Jawan’ had made about Rs 89.5 crore on its first day. Sacnilk.com, a site that monitors the trade of film industry, reported that the film minted over 148 crores in the first two days across all languages.

As Bollywood prepares to enter 2024, it hopes to keep up the momentum and deliver more entertaining and engaging films to the audience. But South Indian films pose a formidable challenge to Bollywood productions in terms of box office performance

BOLLYWOOD HIGHLIGHTS OF 2023

Overall, Bollywood had a mixed bag of films in 2023, with some creating history and others losing money. Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Jawan’ directed by Atlee Kumar (best known for his work in Tamil films), grossed over ₹1,148.32 crore (US$140 million) worldwide. His other blockbuster, ‘Pathaan’, grossed over ₹1,050.30 crore (US$130 million) worldwide. Ranbir Kapoor’s ‘Animal’, Sunny Deol’s ‘Gadar-2’, Salman Khan’s ‘Tiger 3’, Ayushmann Khurrana’s ‘Dream Girl 2’, and ‘Fukrey 3’ were other hits of the year. However, not all films performed well at the box office. Some of the biggest duds and disasters of the year were ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’ (RRKPK), ‘Ganpath’, and ‘Adipurush’. RRKPK, starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, was a romantic comedy directed by Karan Johar. The film, made with a budget of 180 crores, earned only 130 crores, making it a flop. ‘Ganpath’ starring Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon, had a huge budget of 125 crores but earned just 12.85 crores, making it a disaster. ‘Adipurush’, starring Prabhas and Saif Ali Khan, was a mythological epic directed by Om Raut. The film, with a budget of 500 crores, earned only 167.58 crores in Hindi, making it a super flop.

HOLLYWOOD MOVIES : A DISAPPOINTING SHOW

Hollywood movies released in India also failed to impress the audience. ‘The Marvels’, starring Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris, was a superhero film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film, which had a budget of 2249 crores, earned only 11.04 crores in India, making it a flop. ‘Indiana Jones 5’, starring Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, was an adventure film from the ‘Indiana Jones’ franchise. The film, which had a budget of 2422 crores, earned only 10.61 crores in India, making it a flop.

THE BIG SCREEN BONANZA OF 2024

The year 2024 promises to be a blockbuster year for the Hindi film industry, as it follows the impressive performance of 2023 in terms of box office revenues. Movie buffs can expect a variety of movies from big banners

MAIN ATAL HOON: Pankaj Tripathi plays the role of ex-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the biopic “Main Atal Hoon”. The film chronicles the life and achievements of Vajpayee, who was the first BJP leader to become the Prime Minister of India. The film is directed by Ravi Jadhav, a National Award-winning Marathi filmmaker. It will be released on January 19, 2024.

KALKI 2898 AD: Directed by Nag Ashwin the film features Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Deepika Padukone and Disha Patani. Plot: The movie is a sci-fi epic that tells the story of a present-day manifestation of Lord Vishnu, one of the most revered gods in Hindu culture. It has a whopping budget of USD 75 million, making it the most expensive Indian film of all time.

FIGHTER: Directed by Siddharth Anand’ the film features Hrithik Roshan, Anil Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. Plot: Fighter is a thrilling Indian movie of 2024 that showcases the adventures of the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots and serves as the first film in a planned aerial action franchise.

BADE MIYAN CHOTE MIYAN: Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar the movie brings together actors Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff. The budget of this movie is also Rs 300 crores and the film is a remake of the 1998 film and is set to release on Eid around April 10 or April 11, 2024.

SINGHAM AGAIN: Directed By Rohit Shetty the film features Ajay Devgn, Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Akshay Kumar. The film is the third instalment of the super-hit franchise and the film is all set to hit theatres on the occasion of Independence Day 2024.

MERRY CHRISTMAS: Directed by Sriram Raghavan, it is a thriller film starring Vijay Sethupathi, Katrina, and Radhika Apte. It is filmed in two languages – Hindi and Tamil, with different supporting actors for each version.

EMERGENCY: Directed and acted by Kangana Ranaut, the movie delves into the character of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Anupam Kher, Shreyas Talpade, and Mahima Chaudhry play pivotal roles in this cinematic exploration set against the backdrop of the 1975 emergency in India.

TRENDS OF BOLLYWOOD

The total box office collection of Bollywood in 2023 was estimated to be around Rs 24,400 crore, which was slightly higher than the previous year. The year also saw some trends and changes in the industry, such as the rise of OTT platforms, the emergence of new talents, and the revival of old genres. As Bollywood prepares to enter 2024, it hopes to keep up the momentum and deliver more entertaining and engaging films to the audience. But South Indian films pose a formidable challenge to Bollywood productions in terms of box office performance.

A TOUGH COMPETITION

The South Indian film industry has overtaken Bollywood in prominence, fueled by the global success of movies like ‘Pushpa’, ‘RRR’, ‘Kantara’ and ‘KGF Chapter 2’. This triumph has attracted significant investments from international studios, signalling a shift in momentum that appears less favourable for the Hindi film industry. The success of films like ‘RRR’ and ‘KGF Chapter 2’ in their Hindi-dubbed versions, earning Rs 435 crore and Rs 265 crore respectively, underscores the growing appeal of South Indian cinema.

Tamil superstar Chiyaan Vikram has announced his Pan India film ‘Thangaalan’ opposite Hrithik Roshan’s film ‘Fighter’, which is releasing on 26th January. Malayalam superstar Mohanlal’s film ‘Malaikottai Vaaliban’ will also be released on that weekend. After this, Bollywood’s ambitious film ‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ will be released on Eid weekend. Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff are in the lead roles in this film. At the same time, Telugu superstar Junior NTR’s film ‘Devara’ will be released opposite it. Whereas on Independence Day weekend, ‘Pushpa 2: The Rule’, the sequel of Allu Arjun’s superhit film, will compete with Ajay Devgan’s superhit ‘Singam Again’. Apart from these, many prominent South films will be released pan India. (see box).

DOMINANCE OF SOUTH INDIAN MOVIES

The Hindi film industry, with its marquee production houses, megastars and marketing prowess, is proving to be a feeble competitor to the southern juggernaut. A CII South Media & Entertainment report says 62 per cent of the all-India box office collections of movies in the last three years came from south Indian films. And this trend is getting stronger. According to estimates, KGF: Chapter 2, the Kannada action movie, garnered Rs 435 crore in its Hindi-dubbed version, while the dubbed versions of RRR and Pushpa: The Rise Part-1 raked in Rs 265 crore and Rs 106 crore, respectively.

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the Indian film industry’s landscape. South Indian cinema, particularly the film industries in states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, and Kerala, has gained prominence. South Indian films, often made in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada languages, have started to attract a broader audience not only within South India but also nationally and internationally.

Bollywood, which has been wooing multiplex audiences over the past few years, has seen the single-screen audiences—who comprise the bulk of moviegoers in India—rush to theatres across the country to watch these south Indian action films. All the recent analysis of the South Indian film industry giving Bollywood a run for its money ignores a vital statistic—the South Bloc comprising Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam film industries has always been a prolific and profitable ecosystem unto itself. Supported by a vast network of single screens, enthusiastic viewers and popular film stars, South Indian cinema has always been a rather robust entity despite the craze around Bollywood films. It is for this reason that South Indian cinema has not merely survived, but actually thrived.

Bollywood has been losing to South cinema in terms of box-office collection, due to various reasons. Some of them are poor content, the fall of single-screen theatres, entertainment tax on Hindi movies, demographic differences and the popularity of digital streaming platforms

FACTORS BEHIND THE GROWING POPULARITY

Several factors contribute to the rising influence of South Indian cinema. One key aspect is the increased accessibility of films through digital platforms, allowing audiences to explore and appreciate content from different regions of India. South Indian films are often lauded for their innovative storytelling, strong scripts, and technical excellence, contributing to their growing popularity. Furthermore, South Indian actors and directors have begun to make a mark on the national stage, earning recognition and acclaim beyond their regional boundaries. The success of films like ‘Baahubali’ series (Telugu), ‘KGF’ series (Kannada), and ‘Kaithi’ (Tamil) has demonstrated the potential of South Indian cinema to compete on a global scale. There was a clear distinction between the cinema of North and South India in the 2000s, but now it is becoming less noticeable. The gap has been shrinking over the past decade, and soon it will be difficult to identify the origin of the films. India’s entertainment industry is experiencing a dramatic transformation due to the multiplex craze and the merging of languages. Blockbuster films like Leo, KGF 2, Jailer and Salaar have given Telugu and Tamil films an edge over Bollywood and made them the representative of Indian cinema in America and Malaysia. These films are also earning crores of rupees in UAE, Australia, Netherlands and Singapore.

SOUTH STARDOM : THE CLASH OF THE TITANS

The year 2024 will witness a fierce competition between Bollywood and South Indian cinema, as both industries have lined up some big-budget and star-studded movies. Many Bollywood actors will also be seen in these

CAPTAIN MILLER: The Tamil-language period action adventure movie stars Dhanush in a stunning role. The film’s teaser has already created a buzz among the fans.

LAL SALAAM: The film features Rajinikanth in a special cameo role. It is directed by his daughter Aishwarya, who is making her comeback after 7 years. Her last film was the action-thriller “Vai Raja Vai”, which also had a cameo by Dhanush.

AYALAN: The film is a sci-fi film with an alien concept, it will have impressive VFX and action sequences featureing Sivakarthikeyan and Rakul Preet Singh.

GAME CHANGER: The film “Game Changer” is the next film of Ram Charan after RRR. The film stars Kiara Advani opposite Ram Charan. It is directed by Shankar.

INDIAN 2: It is the sequel of the blockbuster film “Indian” starring Kamal Haasan. The film also stars Rakul Preet Singh and Kajal Aggarwal. The film is directed by Shankar, who also directed the original film.

KANGUVA: A Mighty Valiant Saga: The film is the 42nd film of superstar Surya’s career. It is a lavish period action-drama film with a budget of Rs 350 crore. The film also stars Disha Patani and Bobby Deol alongside Surya. The film is directed by Siva.

PUSHPA 2- THE RULE: It is the much-awaited sequel of the 2021 film “Pushpa: The Rise”. The film features Allu Arjun, Fahadh Faasil and Rashmika Mandanna in the lead roles. The film is directed by Sukumar and is set to release on 15 August 2024. Pushpa has a huge budget of Rs 500 crore.

DEVARA- PART 1: It is an upcoming Telugu action-drama film which stars Jr NTR and Janhvi Kapoor in the lead roles with Saif Ali Khan as the main villain.

GUNTUR KAARAM: It is the most talked about Action Masala with a whopping Budget starring superstar Mahesh Babu, Sreeleela and Meenakshi Chaudhary. Mahesh Babu received 78 crores for his role in Guntur Kaaram.

REASONS BEHIND BOLLYWOOD’S LOSS

Bollywood has been losing to South cinema in terms of box-office collection, due to various reasons. Some of them are poor content, the fall of single-screen theatres, entertainment tax on Hindi movies, demographic differences and the popularity of digital streaming platforms. Another major factor that affects the Hindi film industry is increasing nepotism, as star kids fail to attract and retain fans. Like last year, 2024 will also see the debut of many new star kids. (see box)

Several factors contribute to the growing popularity of South Indian cinema, including increased accessibility of films through digital platforms, innovative storytelling, strong scripts, technical excellence, and the recognition of South Indian actors and directors beyond regional boundaries

South Indian films have raised the bar in terms of the technical aspects of filmmaking, such as cinematography, editing, music, sound, and visual effects. They have invested in the latest technology and equipment, and have collaborated with some of the best technicians and artists in the industry. These films have also showcased some of the most spectacular and breathtaking action sequences, stunts, and chase scenes, which have impressed and thrilled the audience.

Rajnikant’s movie ‘Jailer’ dominated the regional language market in the third quarter. According to the data available in the investor presentation of PVR INOX, Jailer’s India GBOC (gross box office collections) was at ₹393.7 crore. Other movies from South, like ‘Kushi’ and actor Pawan Kalyan’s ‘Bro’ (both in Telugu) reached a GBOC of ₹78.1 crore and ₹92.2 crore, respectively, during the period.

BLURRING OF BOUNDARIES

Bollywood and South Indian films had a wide gap that seemed unbridgeable for decades, but the recent nationwide success of Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam films has gradually started to fill it. The Hindi film industry and the southern regional film industries have been remaking each other’s successful films since the black-and-white era. However, their dubbed films have rarely attracted audiences in theatres.

A shift is occurring as Hindi audiences are now embracing South Indian cinema for its raw energy, innovative plots, grandeur, and well-executed formulas. Over the past 15 years, even as single-screen theatres in North India faced challenges with the rise of multiplexes, they continued to showcase dubbed versions of these ‘South action films.’ The economical print costs were advantageous, ensuring audience engagement. Furthermore, the rise of OTT platforms has facilitated the easy accessibility of South films to viewers in North India.

It was previously believed that cultural differences between North and South India impeded their films from creating a uniform impression across the country. Additionally, none of the veteran actors from the South, such as Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Mohanlal, and Mammootty, could attain national-level superstardom. However, the situation is evolving. Actors like Prabhas, Allu Arjun, Ram Charan, Mahesh Babu, and Vijay now boast fans nationwide, extending beyond the southern states. Remarkably, Vijay, Mahesh Babu, and Allu Arjun have not featured in a single Bollywood film, yet they have garnered a fanbase in North India as well.

EMERGENCE OF THE ‘INDIAN FILM INDUSTRY’

Bollywood lags behind the popularity of south Indian films that are dubbed and shown in the Hindi belt. S S Rajamouli is the director who broke into Bollywood’s stronghold and announced a new era with the ‘Baahubali series’ and ‘RRR’. He displayed such a spectacle of technology, style and grandeur that he achieved success in the Hindi belt that no recent Hindi film has achieved. Allu Arjun’s ‘Pushpa: The Rise’ ran successfully in UP and Bihar territories. In all fairness, last year belonged to the Kannada film industry. KGF Chapter 2 and Kantara were two of the biggest blockbusters not just in Sandalwood but across film industries.

It was a silent but long, steady march into the Hindi heartland, not a ‘sudden revolution’ the way it is being projected. The best thing to emerge from the changing landscape is the rise of the ‘Indian film’. Today, Allu Arjun’s Pushpa is as much a Hindi film as Shah Rukh’s Pathaan in Telugu. While Bollywood remains a powerhouse in the Indian film industry, the increasing recognition and success of South Indian cinema signal a dynamic shift in the industry’s landscape, with diverse regional industries contributing to the rich tapestry of Indian cinema. This trend reflects a broader movement toward appreciating the cultural diversity and storytelling prowess present across the entire Indian film industry.

NEWCOMERS : STAR KIDS TO WATCH IN 2024

The year 2023 saw the launch of several star kids in Bollywood, such as Shahrukh Khan’s daughter Suhana Khan, Salman Khan’s niece Alizeh Agnihotri, Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson Agastya Nanda, Sunny Deol’s younger son Rajveer Deol, Poonam Dhillon’s daughter Pamela Dhillon, and Boney Kapoor’s daughter Khushi Kapoor. The trend is likely to continue in 2024, as more star kids are ready to debut in the Hindi film industry

IBRAHIM ALI KHAN: The son of Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh, Ibrahim Ali Khan, will debut in ‘Sarzameen.’ The film is directed by Kayoze Irani, son of famous actor Boman Irani. Ibrahim will also be seen in ‘Dileer,’ directed by Kunal Deshmukh, and another film by Karan Johar.

JUNAID KHAN: The son of Aamir Khan, Junaid Khan, is gearing up for his debut in ‘Maharaj,’ a Yash Raj Films production set to release on Netflix. Another film is on the horizon, starring Junaid alongside Khushi Kapoor.

PASHMINA ROSHAN: Hrithik Roshan’s cousin sister and Rajesh Roshan’s daughter, Pashmina Roshan, will make her debut in the romantic drama ‘Ishq Vishk Rebound.’ The film is a remake of the 2003 film ‘Ishq Vishk,’ and will feature Pashmina along with another star kid, Jibran Khan.

RASHA THADANI: Raveena Tandon’s daughter, Rasha Thadani, will make her debut in Abhishek Kapoor’s action-adventure film, co-starring Aman Devgan.

AMAN DEVGAN: Ajay Devgn’s nephew, Aman Devgan, will make his debut in Abhishek Kapoor’s action-adventure film, co-starring Rasha Thadani. The film is in the scripting stage, and the shooting details will be announced soon.

SHANAYA KAPOOR: Anil Kapoor’s niece, Shanaya Kapoor, whose debut in Karan Johar’s ‘Bedhadak’ is uncertain, is reported to make her debut in Bollywood with South star Mohan Lal’s film ‘Vrishabh.’

AHAAN PANDEY: Ananya Pandey’s cousin, Ahaan Pandey, is set to make his debut in Bollywood under the banner of Yash Raj Films, after being groomed for three years. Aditya Chopra is said to be grooming Ahaan Panday for the past three years for a launch

YASHVARDHAN AHUJA: Govinda’s son, Yashvardhan Ahuja, is rumoured to make his debut in the film ‘Aao Twist Karein,’ which might be directed by choreographer Ganesh Acharya. Ganesh Acharya’s daughter Soundarya will also make her debut in this film.

Geeta Singh

Geeta Singh has spent 20 years covering cinema, music, and society giving new dimensions to feature writing. She has to her credit the editorship of a film magazine. She is also engaged in exploring the socio-economic diversity of Indian politics. She is the co-founder of Parliamentarian.

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