Year-ender 2021: When pan India movies, stars and shows ruled


Combined star power, stories with universal appeal dubbed in different languages and the rising power of OTT releases helped pan Indian content reach viewers beyond their traditional audience base, be it movies like “Minnal Murali”, “Pushpa”, “Joji”, “The Great Indian Kitchen” or shows like “The Family Man 2” and “Aranyak”. While the pan India collaboration never went away, they weren’t really mounted on a massive scale and were often simply just about remakes, the streaming revolution has leveled the playing field for all kinds of content.

A day before the release of his multilingual film “Pushpa” on December 16, Telugu star Allu Arjun said there was a clear division between the north cinema and south cinema in the 2000s, which has now started blurring.

“In the last decade, we slowly saw the gaps bridging. Today, we see everyone is familiar with each other. In the near future, the lines will be so blurred that you won’t come to know where the films are coming from,” Arjun told reporters in Mumbai.

“I would like to make everything pan India… Language is no barrier to the cinema. I would say we should go for a multi-language release and see how far we can go as Indian cinema,” he added.

Arjun may have hit on a winning idea as his film, released on December 17 in theatres in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi, has amassed Rs 275 crores gross in 11 days and earned Rs 39.95 crore in Hindi speaking market alone.

Not just “Pushpa”, Fahadh Faasil’s “Joji”, a new retelling of ‘Macbeth’, was loved beyond Kerala as one of the best films of the year 2021. Faasil followed the success of “Joji” with another critically-loved film in “Malik”. Both released on Amazon Prime Video.

“The Great Indian Kitchen”, a story about how women in a patriarchal society are tied to back-breaking work of cooking and cleaning around the house, was a hit with critics for its storytelling. The movie was initially rejected by major streaming platforms and released on Neestream but it is now available on Amazon.

Most recently, Netflix went all out to promote the Malayalam superhero movie “Minnal Murali”, which is performing well on the platform.

South superstars Kamal Haasan, Akkineni Nagarjuna, Prithviraj Sukumaran and Kichcha Sudeep joined hands with producer Reliance Entertainment to present the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada versions of “83”, a sports drama based on India’s historic victory in the 1983 World Cup.

Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, who has acted in Hindi movies like Ram Gopal Varma’s “Company”, “Tezz” with Ajay Devgn, said the cultural exchange is a blessing.

“It’s a great movement. People know each other, they can bring films together. The subject should demand a pan India film. The financial equations should also be perfect. Now OTT also offers that, where we have a pan India web series with actors from all languages,” Mohanlal told PTI.

Director SS Rajamouli, the man who is said to have altered the definition of a pan India film with the success of “Baahubali”, said, “A pan Indian film does not mean that actors from different languages come together. That’s all part of it. A pan Indian film means a story and emotion that connects to everyone irrespective of the language.”

Kamal Gianchandani, CEO PVR Pictures and president of Multiplex Association of India (MAI), said pan Indian cinema augurs well for the cinema exhibition business in a diverse country like ours.

“If you have one ‘Baahubali’ every year I don’t think this business will have to look back ever,” Gianchandani explained.

South star Dhanush, who returned to Hindi cinema after “Raanjhaana” and “Shamitabh” with “Atrangi Re”, believes his superstar father-in-law Rajinikanth is the pioneer in this direction.

“Initially, it was a phenomenon called Rajinikanth, the phenomenon became national, international. He has fans in Japan, like major fans there, he also has fans in Canada, the US and everywhere. And after that, ‘Baahubali’ happened. They all set the trend. It made us believe that it is us who are restricting ourselves. It is a much bigger circle, we need to push ourselves,” Dhanush told PTI.

After the success of Amazon’s “The Family Man” season two, Samantha Ruth Prabhu told PTI the quality of Hindi content being offered to her has improved “very much”.

Parambrata Chatterjee credited streaming platforms for introducing fans who know him only through Sujoy Ghosh-directed “Kahaani” or his other Hindi projects to his work in Bengali cinema.

“Because of the OTT revolution, people are now aware of the Bengali work that I’ve done,” the actor, who was last seen in Netflix series “Aranyak”, told PTI.

In the old days, it was all about remakes barring some notable cross-overs of talent, be it Dilip Kumar’s 1967 hit “Ram Aur Shyam” or Jeetendra’s “Himmatwala”.

Also, it was the South that nurtured the late Sridevi before she went on to rule Bollywood for over five decades.

Kamal Haasan is another pan India star who has worked in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, and Bengali films.

In the 1980s, veteran actor Jeetendra was frequently paired with Jaya Prada or Sridevi for remakes of Telugu films by T Rama Rao, K Bapayya, K Raghavendra Rao and Dasari Narayana Rao.

Stage is set for 2022 as well with pan India collaborations: Nagraj Manjule’s “Bheed” with Amitabh Bachchan; sci-fi film tentatively titled “Project K” starring Prabhas and Deepika Padukone; “K.G.F: Chapter 2” starring Yash, Sanjay Dutt and Raveena Tandon; Mani Ratnam’s epic historical drama “Ponniyin Selvan: I” with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Vikram, Saif Ali Khan and Prabhas-led “Adipurush”, Karan Johar’s “Liger” with Telugu star Vijay Deverakonda and “Brahmastra” featuring Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Bachchan and Nagarjuna Akkineni.



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