Bollywood May Not Like It But South Indian Films Rule Gujarat

| Updated: May 25, 2022 11:23 am

It’s all in the numbers. Gujarat-based multiplexes and movie distributors are overjoyed with the kind of moolah that films from the South bring to Gujarat. And yes, Bollywood potboilers are enjoyed only for the duration of interest. That’s it. When it comes to business, films from the South win hands down.

In an exclusive chat with Vibes of India, Gujarat Multiplex Association (GMA) president, Manubhai Patel stated: “Now, it’s no more about Bollywood. Even blockbusters with big names such as Akshay Kumar’s Bachchan Pandey or the more recent Bhool Bhulaiya 2 failed to reverse the downtrend. Very often we side-line Hindi and Gujarati films to accommodate south Indian releases.”

Re-iterating the same stand, Rakeshbhai Patel, director, Wide Angle Ahmedabad & Mehsana, added: “South Indian movies in Gujarat do 70 per cent more business than Hindi and Gujarati films. The success ratio of Gujarati films is poor and most films are taken down in just a week. Bollywood and Gujarati filmmakers should learn from filmmakers down south.”

Why do south Indian films dominate?

There are a couple of reasons, as Rakeshbhai puts it: “First, is planning. Promotions and advertising of south Indian films begin a year before the release of the film. Second, is the budget. South Indian films pour more money into films than Bollywood ever can. The movie budgets easily surpass over Rs 400 crores. The resultant is a magnum opus, quality actors and technical experts who bring the screen alive.”

Song and dance are too passe:

One element of South Indian cinema that has really wooed Gujarati audiences is the absence of song and dance. “South films are all about action and stunts. Their VFX and editing is par excellence. True entertainers, these movies resonate with the audience. Meanwhile, Bollywood and Gujarati films are still stuck with songs and dances.”

Some of the highest grossing South movies in 2022:

Sr No. Movie Budget Earnings 
1KGF 100 crore 1187 crore (worldwide) 
2RRR 600 crore 1111.7 crore 
3Pushpa: The Rise 150 crore 342.7 crore
4Beast 150 crore220.35 crore
5Valimai 150 crore164.50 crore

Starpower in Gujarat? 

Actor Malhar Thakar who became popular with Chhelo Divas is no more successful in drawing crowds back to theatres. “Malhar’s recent movie Sonu Tane Mara Par Bharoso Nai hardly did any business at the box office. His past movies such as Cash On DeliveryVandha VilasDuniyadari and several others also flopped. Seems star power is a fleeting reality in Gujarat. The audience here is far more discerning and only good content makes it,” Rakeshbhai elaborates.

What works in Gujarat? 

In the recent past, the only Gujarati film to have set cash registers ringing at the box office is theatre actor Siddharth Randeria’s latest comedy-drama Kehvatlal Parivar. “Again, the story line was strong. Randeria is now connected with good plots. Gujaratis will enjoy drama but need substance to spread the good word about any release,” he further adds.

Pushpa and Politics:

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh pointed out that Bollywood movies are urban centric and have lost mass appeal while South Indian films have something for everyone. In the recent Pushpa, the audience found their lost superhero. The film became an instant success in Gujarat. Such was the influence that when Vadgam Independent MLA  and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani was arrested in Assam, he mimicked the mannerism of Allu Arjun by running fingers around his neck. This was coupled with the signature dialogue, Pushpa jhukega nahi (Pushpa will not bend). 

Jignesh Mevani

Gujarat to remake South Indian movies:

Gujarat director Manish Saini’s next, Shubh Yatra, is a remake of 2016’s critically acclaimed Tamil film, Aandavan Kattalai, headlined by the inimitable Vijay Sethupathi. For Malhar Thakar, this Gujarati edition will be a do-or-die project. 

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