By Sreedhar Pillai
Tamil Nadu is one state where Tamil films ruled supreme. It was very difficult for Other Language Films (OLF) meaning Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam films to make inroads into the cloistered market.
Of course years back big Hollywood movies and their Tamil dubbing had percolated down into B & C Centres. Hollywood films grandeur and making along with their technical superiority had created an audience for these films especially among the youth.
However the scenario is changing at the Tamil Nadu box-office. Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger in Hindi is reported to have taken a share of Rs 1.25 Crore. Akshay Kumar’s Rowdy Rathore did Rs 65 lakhs. Vidya Balan’s The Dirty Picture grabbed Rs 80 lakhs and Razz 3D is said to have grossed a crore. Last week’s class film Ranbir Kapoor’s Barfi has grossed Rs 34.5 lakhs in two days from 24 screens in TN.
Similarly the market for Telugu films is exploding. Mahesh Babu’s Dookudu(2011) got a Tamil Nadu share of Rs 60 lakhs and even played in small towns like Karaikudi. This summer Pawan Kalyan’s Gabbar Singh stormed the box-office and took Rs 55 lakhs from TN as distributor’s share!
The Hindi and Telugu films were not dubbings and it did not have Tamil subtitles. But some of these films reached across to small towns like Tiruvannamalai, Tirunelveli, Dindigul and few other Tier-2 towns, where Hindi and Telugu films had not released before.
According to a leading distributor of OLF : “Earlier in TN, Chennai city used to bring nearly 90% of the revenue, now other territories like Chengalpet, Coimbatore and Salem area have shown interest in Hindi and Telugu films. The main reason is the growth of new multiplexes and floating population of students from North India and Andhra in various educational institutes in TN.”
A leading multiplex manager said: “The growth of OLF is also because of the popularity of social media networking sites like Twitter and Facebook among Tamil youth. The kind of promotions and craze for OLF in social media has created a market for these films in TN.”
Another reason attributed is large number of Tamil releases with poor content, which has kept audiences away. At the same time a film like Naan Ee basically a Telugu film marketed as a bi-lingual has been able to bring in the audiences, as the film grossed Rs 24.5 Crore in 50 days from TN market.
This has led to a scenario where a Barfi or a Life is Beautiful (Telugu) gets priority and better show timing and bigger screens in multiplexes. For example Barfi which was given two shows at the biggest screen in a popular multiplex went 100% over the weekend, while the Tamil big film of the week given the other two shows at the big screen could get only 80% occupancy!
Meanwhile some Tamil producers and distributors are getting into the OLF bandwagon, by buying the distribution rights of Telugu and Hindi films. It has created boom as prices for these films have gone through the roof. Prabhas’s Rebel in Telugu has been sold for Rs 33 lakhs, three times the price that his last film was sold in TN. The asking price for distribution rights of Pawan Kalyan's new film Cameraman Ganga Tho Rambabu is Rs 55 lakhs.
The big news in distribution circles is that UTV has sold Tamil Nadu rights of Madhur Bhandarkar’s Kareena Kapoor starrer Heroine for a whopping Rs 40 lakhs! Imagine a female oriented Hindi film getting such a high price in a market ruled by the Khan’s? The argument of the distributors is that if a Dirty Picture and Kahaani can make big money in TN, why can’t a film like Heroine?
The rise of multiplexes in key markets have also given an additional boost to OLF . Moreover it has suddenly become “cool” among Tamil audiences to watch Hindi movies. Remember Ilayathalapathy danced with Akshay Kumar in Rowdy Rathore and Thala is appearing in English Vinglish and more actors are doing straight Hindi films. The OLF boom is here to stay.