For movies like 'Raavan', 'Rakta Charitra' and 'The Business Man', the makers are using the same locations, resources, mostly the same cast and shooting them simultaneously in different languages. The result is two films almost at the cost of one. Bollywood filmmakers now wield the megaphone for multilinguals that target a wider market.
'The cost of making a film has gone so high that makers are getting into making multilingual films so that the loss is minimised by targeting the film at a wider audience and the reach of the film increases,' trade analyst Komal Nahta, told IANS.
'This (multilingual films) is a profitable trend and will stay on for at least some time,' he added.
Ram Gopal Varma has shot his upcoming trilingual two-part thriller 'Rakta Charitra' in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Based on the life of an alleged outlaw Paritala Ravi, it stars Vivek Oberoi, Shatrughan Sinha and Tamil superstar Surya.
'Because of the subject matter of the film ('Rakta Charitra'), it was made a trilingual and also because of Tamil star Surya's presence in the film,' said Varma.
He has also decided to go trilingual in 'The Business Man', which gives crime a facelift. He will repeat Surya in the new gangster movie that will be made in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi.
The National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) is working on the country's first Hindi-Assamese movie. The Hindi version is titled 'As The River Flows' while the Assamese one is called 'Ekhon Nedhekha Nadir Shipaare'.
A socio-political thriller, the movie is inspired by a true incident and shot on location in Assam. Written and directed by National Award winning filmmaker Bidyut Kotoky, it stars Victor Banerjee, Sanjay Suri, Raj Zutshi, Nakul Vaid, Naved Aslam and debutante actress Bidita Bag in both versions.
'Most of the filmmakers are working on two languages because of market demands and the add-on aspect is culture. This works in two ways - one is that the market gets expanded and, secondly, artistically speaking, you can transcend barriers,' film critic Utpal Borpujari, who is the script consultant for 'As The River Flows', told IANS.
'Like in the case of 'Raavan', Mani Ratnam is bringing it in Tamil and Hindi so you can transpose Tamil film sensibilities on the Hindi audiences.'
In 2009, Reliance BIG Pictures released bilingual supernatural thriller - '13B... Fear Has A New Address' in Hindi and as 'Yuvarum Nalam' in Tamil. Both the versions were simultaneously shot and released.
Directed by National Award winner Vikram K. Kumar, it starred R. Madhavan and Neetu Chandra. 'It was an added responsibility to find actors who can not only act but are also fluent with both the languages,' Kumar had said.
DAR Motion Pictures recently produced Mahesh Manjrekar-directed 'City of Gold' in Hindi and 'Lalbaug Parel' in Marathi.
Manjrekar's critically acclaimed Tabu- starrer 'Astitva' (2000) was also shot in both Hindi and Marathi.
The trend of bilingual and multilingual is not new in India.
V. Shantaram, known as one of the founding fathers of Indian cinema, introduced it in 1932 when he made the first bilingual talkie in Marathi and Hindi. Based on the mythological story of Raja Harishchandra and his test by sage Vishwamitra, the Marathi version was titled 'Ayodhyecha Raja' and Hindi was called 'Ayodhya Ka Raja'.
In the following year Shantaram gave India its first trilingual movie called 'Sairandhri' that was made in Hindi, Marathi and Telugu.
(Robin Bansal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)