How regional films are being repackaged to draw brands outside native state

Baahubali 2 (Telugu), Pulimurugan (Malayalam), Sairat (Marathi) have found big audiences outside their states.
For a long time the Indian film industry was neatly divided into Hindi and regional cinema. But as regional filmmakers begin to package their films to suit a more national audience with better production values, neat subtitling and dubbed versions and; in a small but growing number of cases, multilingual productions, geographical barriers are fast coming down. And this has big national brands such as Airtel, Nestle, Mondelez (Cadbury), Coca Cola, Pepsico and even Chinese brands such as Oppo showing a greater interest in associating with films made in Tamil, Telugu and other Indian languages apart from Hindi.   

How are regional film makers reeling in the new opportunities? Most are taking the dubbing route, but not just into Hindi. Movies made in Marathi are being dubbed in Tamil and Telugu and vice-versa. Ditto for movies made in Bengali and Malayalam. Industry representatives said that dubbing of Telugu movies has become so popular and rampant that other languages contribute 20-30 per cent of revenues earned.

Many have labelled this as the Baahubali was a story that would have appealed to the nation, but it was scripted in Telugu. The next project I am working on is based around Andhra politics, but will also find appeal in Tamil Nadu, and so we’ll be dubbing the film in Tamil as well,” he says. Ghazi Attack, which released earlier this year was another such project that Dagubatti championed. The film was shot simultaneously in Telugu and Hindi and had actors from Bollywood and Telugu films.

“By dubbing Baahubali 2. So far, the movie has been dubbed into Hindi, Malayalam, Portuguese, Spanish, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean, and German. 

Pulimurugan (2016), a Mohan Lal starrer clocked in over Rs 100 crore in box office with support from other languages.
The dubbing and remaking in South is largely driven by Telugu and Tamil movies, but is now sweeping Kerala, a comparatively smaller market, too. “Randamoozham” about the life of Bhima have also been launched on the same model. Strong content driven movies have started to perform well, says G Adiseshagiri Rao, chairman, Padmalaya Group. 

Dubbed Marathi movies are also attracting audiences in Chennai.
Apart from Southern languages, dubbed Marathi movies are attracting audiences in Chennai, said the owner of a multiplex in the city. But the numbers are still not as large as that of the Tamil and Telugu movies. The Marathi film industry is keen to break into this market though. “Our role has been to identify this differentiated content understanding, thus creating and presenting such films which have been the driving factory of this growth,” Nikhil Sane, business head, Marathi Film Division at Zee Studios was quoted in a KPMG-FICCI report on media.

The growing national appeal of regional films is having a ripple effect. More dubbed versions are bringing in larger audiences and more brands and that is in turn, encouraging more film makers go down the same road. 

Almost all the big movies in Tamil Nadu released in 2016 and 2017 were dubbed in other languages. Rajinikanth’s ‘Pichaikaaran’ have performed better in the neighbouring states than Tamil Nadu. 

The regional movie industry, many believe, is taking a cue from Hollywood and its success with language subtitling and dubbing in India. According to KPMG-FICCI report, over the last 2-3 years, nearly 40 per cent of the English releases have been dubbed in at least one local language. Tapping into the multi-language market with dubbed and sub-titled movies helps production houses not only reach a wider audience, but also address the problem of falling ticket sales. It also gives them greater leverage with brands because companies are increasingly interested in vehicles that offer them deeper inroads into the market beyond Hindi and English speaking consumers.

Rahul Bhatia, CEO, BOL (Business of Languages), which is into translation, dubbing and subtitling services believes that good content is what matters and people, especially those who live outside metros, love good movies if they are available in a language they are comfortable with. D Paranthaman, CEO, V Creations, adds that by producing movies in many languages and dubbing them, film makers are also gaining scale as it lets them release their movies in many more screens. 
 (With inputs from Urvi Malvania)

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