Mumbai: Multilingual collaborations between regional industries and Hindi cinema are not unusual. South-Indian divas like Vyjayanthimala, Hema Malini and Sridevi became iconic in Hindi films while newbies Divya Bharti, Aishwarya Rai and Deepika Padukone made their debut in the South. Over the years, stars from both sides, be they male or female, have routinely crossed over to explore unfamiliar territories. But an even bigger shift is afoot because now the collaborations are becoming intentional instead of sporadic. With the success of blockbusters like Baahubali and K.G.F: Chapter 1 in cinemas and Drishyam and C U Soon on OTT platforms, both industries are realising that the audience they are now catering to is growing bigger by the day and is not limited to a specific region. Soon a spate of films with stars from multiple industries will arrive to engage and target an increasingly diverse fan base.
The budgets are expanding for crossover stories and the idea of pan-Indian cinema has also been reconfigured. The forthcoming Ayan Mukherjee multi-starrer ‘Brahmastra’ will star Telugu superstar Nagarjuna Akkineni with Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Amitabh Bachchan.
Also creating a massive buzz is ‘RRR,’ an upcoming Telugu period drama which will star Alia Bhatt as the female lead.
‘K.G.F: Chapter 2’ starring Kannada superstar Yash will also have Sanjay Dutt playing the antagonist along with Raveena Tandon. Another Kannada actor Rashmika Mandanna will star with Siddharth Malhotra in ‘Mission Majnu’ while Karan Johar will be producing ‘Liger’ with Vijay Deverkonda and Ananya Panday.
Siddharth Anand Kumar, Vice President, TV & Films, Saregama, thinks this trend of cross-pollination is global and says, “In Hollywood too, it is becoming increasingly essential to have a diverse Starcast to attract a global audience . Be it British Indian star Simone Ashley who stars in the Netflix series, ‘Bridgerton,’ or ‘Never Have I Ever,’ the coming of age comedy that starred Maitreyi Ramakrishnan – there is a strong case being built for inclusion of actors from across nations. The likes of Saeed Jaffrey and Om Puri had certainly paved the way for the current crop of Indian actors who appear in Hollywood commercial projects .’ Irrfan Khan of course could make even a small budget film like ‘The Lunchbox’ run to packed theatres in the US. So even the biggest of industries across the world are realizing that they cannot be insular and have to tap various demographics to succeed.” This is what, says he, is happening in India too. He adds, “We are finally seeing South-Indian industries and Hindi cinema truly synergising to unify a bigger fan base than ever. It is a very healthy trend because it makes the story telling more diverse and melts regional and cultural barriers. And the audience for such films is growing beyond belief. At Yoodlee too, we are making films in Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam and other languages because the audience only wants to watch good content across the spectrum now. That is the only demand and content creators are realigning their casting choices accordingly.