The rise of southern cinema has been a topic of national interest ever since 2021 when Pushpa: The Rise was the top grosser. Recently, with a collection of Rs 346 crore, the first instalment of Ponniyin Selvan (PS) released last week has already become the fifth highest-grossing Indian movie of 2022, according to IMDb. Of the top five highest-grossing films of the year, Brahmastra is the only exception from Bollywood. The top three spots are with KGF Chapter 2, RRR and Vikram. KGF 2 and RRR have breached the Rs 1,000-crore mark.
The successful strides made by South films, both commercially and critically, will be discussed as part of ‘Contemporary Film Industry – A Business Perspective’, an elective taught by adjunct faculty Prof Kandaswamy Bharathan at IIM-A. The course, taught for 15 years uninterrupted, is taken by over 1,000 students over the years at IIM-A alone. Prof Kandaswamy Bharathan is the joint managing director of the acclaimed film production house Kavithalayaa.
Giving a peek into the resurgence of southern film industries – especially Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam – the producer said that its roots could be found even in pre-Covid era through a slew of remakes, both official and unofficial. “Films like Drishyam have been made in multiple languages – and all were successful. OTTs globalised the platter for viewers who compared the local content to Squid Games and Money Heists of the world,” he said.
Explaining his demand and supply factors for the phenomenon, Prof Bharathan said that from the supply side, the production costs have escalated. “Today with only 8,500 screens in India, OTTs have become a huge factor – the films have wider appeal and more diverse subjects,” he said. From the demand side, he said that audience awareness is a major factor. “Language has not remained a barrier,” he said.
After Baahubali, Prof Bharathan is preparing to write the next case on PS-I with the approval of producers to be taught in the business schools following the case study method of teaching.