Some of the leading stars of regional cinema have found a new formula for success: shooting high-budget multi-lingual films, often with different actors for niche appeal.
Previously, filmmakers would create a film in one regional language and dub it in multiple languages including Hindi, or remake it in a regional language, a couple of years down the line. But now the megastars of regional cinema, particularly the South are scaling up their production cost and shooting in several languages parallelly, often with multiple co-stars.
Some upcoming films that are being remade in several languages include:
- Haathi Mere Saathi
- KGF 2
According to a FICCI and EY report, Bollywood comprises only 17 percent of the films made in the country while contributing almost 40 percent to the box office collections annually. Whereas films made in the other 29 Indian languages have the lion’s share of contribution at 50 percent of the domestic box office collections.
At a time when the Indian box office crossed the Rs. 10,000 crore mark in 2019, regional content made a significant contribution. Many Tamil and Telugu films joined the 100-crore club.
The two Bahubali films grossed INR 650 crores and INR 2460 crores respectively. This had laid the ground for ambitious regional cinema in various languages to stand up and take a bow. When audiences got a taste of films like Bahubali and KGF, they wanted more.
And catering to this expectation, filmmakers have now decided to go big and escalate their productions to create the same film in multiple regional languages, giving it a unique flavour.
The Multiplex Effect
Multiplexes have grown to be over 25% of the screen capacity in India with smaller seating capacities and the ability to draw in audiences of different tastes and likes. This has certainly helped the distribution footprint for regional content. The ability to distribute nationally combined with the ability to remake a film without subtitling it can significantly impact the reach and popularity of projects.
The Arjun Reddy original Telugu formula was remade in Hindi as Kabir Singh and was Adithya Varma and Varmaa in Tamil. The film is also set to be retold in Malayalam and Kannada. Similarly, adaptations of Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu films are growing in number with each new release surpassing the performance of its predecessor at the box office. A case in point is Drishyam, one of the highest-grossing Malayalam films that have been recreated in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi.
Originality Versus Reach
What does this trend mean? Will it ring the death knell for originality if we keep remaking old blockbusters or create a prototype for movie-making across languages?
The main argument for recreating or parallel shooting films in multiple languages is that good content needs to be shared, across boundaries of language and culture. If the filmmaker is able to achieve a fine balance between the original story and the regional nuance without compromising on the overall quality, then it is a gamble worth taking.