If you want to rake in big moolah in the South, get a role in a Hindi film first
Several South Indian stars harbour dreams to make it big in Bollywood. Decades ago, there were several South Indian stars such as Kamal Haasan, Sridevi and Jaya Prada who carved a niche for themselves in Bollywood.
Today, we have names such as Dhanush, Ileana D’Cruz and Tamannaah Bhatia (the girls might not be South Indians but made a mark for themselves in South film industry before heading to B-town), who are making a mark in Bollywood.
However, there are several South Indian actors who didn’t get the kind of recognition they wished in Hindi film film industry, but continued to churn blockbusters down South. Even being part of one Hindi film helps them as they have earned a Bollywood actor tag.
For instance, Sonu Sood made his debut in Bollywood in 2002, but got noticed in 2004 in Mani Ratnam’s film Yuva as Abhishek Bachchan’s brother. Still, he couldn’t exactly get a lot of offers here. It was in South Indian films that he gained popularity and became a big draw till he was offered Dabangg in 2010 and since then there has been no looking back for the actor.
According to industry watchers, working in one or two Bollywood films always helps a South Indian actor as they get a chance to earn more money down South with a Bollywood film tag in their kitty.
Jannat actress Sonal Chauhan, who works in South Indian flicks believes, “Bollywood definitely has an impact because the reach of Hindi cinema is immense. But your talent is the key requirement that gives you good roles in any film industry.
Also, in today’s scenario, the popularity and talent of South Indian stars has its own effect on audience’s intellect and is been equally appreciated and accepted as Hindi cinema and today’s film industry is more of Bolly-Tolly together.
I would say it is difficult for the actors to work in South India and Hindi cinema because they have to learn different languages the skills are moulded according to the roles. It is not an easy task, but good talent and hard work calls for great opportunities. It is fortunate that actors today are been accepted and loved in Bollywood and the South at the same time.”
Rakul Preet Singh. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Industry watchers feel that most of the time, the stars increase their fee after working in Bollywood films. Apart from the big names in the South, stars with a Bollywood stamp have better opportunities than down South as these stars get more preferences and better films.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh says, “The South Indian film industry is extremely professional and as far as the hike in money is concerned it depends on the individual. If you have worked with a superstar in Bollywood then you are in a commanding position because you have worked with the big names of the industry.”
South Indian actress Shriya Saran who also tried her luck in Bollywood Awaarapan (2007) and Mission Istanbul (2008) added, “I feel it’s easy to get noticed and picked up if you are doing a Hindi film. Nowadays, the Internet has also helped a lot and if you do a South Indian film, you get noticed easily as many South Indian films release all over.
I feel it’s Indian cinema rather than two different industries. If you have done a big film in Hindi you’ll get good films here too. It all depends on your work and visibility. I think the Hindi film industry has better visibility and it is more vast.”
There have been many actors who tried their luck in Bollywood, didn’t click with the audience and therefore, focussed on Tollywood. They get pay cheques even more than what Bollywood would offer them, so the actors do not mind switching over to the South film industry.
Director-writer Ahishor Solomon who has worked on several projects in the South says, “Cross cultural/regional exchange of talent is surely a healthy thing. It is not only the heroines, but also the character actors and villains are being imported from Bollywood in the past few years.
While it certainly does add an element of freshness to the film, the inability to speak or understand the language surely does bring down the quality of performances in a few cases. Many actors from Bollywood have made it big in South Indian industry, but I guess all is fair till the audience accept it.”
Actress Rakul Preet Singh, who made her Bollywood debut with Yaariyan earlier this year, is making her mark in the South. According to Rakul, “I think Indian cinema has reached a stage where Bollywood films and South Indian films are interlinked. Technicians, actors and artistes can be recognised anywhere with their talent.
Bollywood has a larger visibility, but a person’s aptitude is what gives one opportunities in either of the industries. For instance, Tamannaah, Asin and Prithviraj are renowned actors from the South who were cast in Bollywood or the other way round with Sonakshi Sinha who is doing Lingaa with Rajnikanth — Bollywood is also doing great in South Indian films. It’s all about the appropriateness of the role, skills and talent.”
Dashrath Kondapalli, a screenwriter in the South film industry, believes, “Actually it’s not fair because people think that if they have the Bollywood tag, they can ask exorbitant amount of fees, but the reality is that unless they are not successful in Bollywood, they wouldn’t get paid much here.”
He adds, “The Telugu industry pays you well, but Tamil films will only pay you if you are successful and Malayalam and Kannada don’t even pay that much. It’s one out of 50 who is an exception that a person who is one-film old in Bollywood and has done well here also.”