Regional Cinema in India More Successful than Bollywood Films Overseas
Indian regional cinema is proving to be more popular than Bollywood films in overseas markets, according to business news and analysis site, Livemint.
Due to the multitude of languages spoken in India, there are several different film industries, each catering to one specific language. The Hindi industry is known as Bollywood, while other industries, such as Tamil, Teluga, and Punjabi, make up regional cinema. Since Hindi speakers outnumber speakers of other languages, Bollywood produces the most films and has traditionally been the most profitable.
Secret Superstar, a Bollywood production, has earned about 320 million rupees overseas as of its last count, but Mersal, a Tamil film, has earned 718 million rupees as of last week. Mersal outdid Secret Superstar in both the UK and Australia. It made 24.2 million rupees in Australia and 45.1 million rupees in the UK, while Secret Superstar made 42 million rupees in the UK and 11 million rupees in Australia. Mersal is already on the list of all-time highest grossing south Indian films worldwide.
The success of Mersal over its Bollywood competitor contributes to a recent pattern. Last month, Teluga film Jai Lava Kusa made $1.39 million during its five-day opening weekend in the US, while its Bollywood rival Bhoomi made $200,000. Around the same time, Nikka Zaildar 2, a Punjabi film, was #1 in Canada, the UK, and Ireland, bringing in $2.5 million and £63,097 over the weekend. The film outperformed all Bollywood films in these markets.
Bahubali 2: The Conclusion, released by a Teluga studio this year, is now the highest grossing movie ever in the Indian domestic box office.
A big regional release appears on about half the screens overseas that a Bollywood movie does, but while Bollywood movies make $5,000-6,000 per week per screen in foreign countries, a regional film makes $8,000-9,000.
“Big-hero Tamil and Teluga films are definitely doing better than Bollywood, at least in the US,” Sreedhar Pillai, an independent trade analyst, confirmed. “Hindi films started to gain ground in countries like Canada that had a massive Punjabi population in the 1970s and 80s when stars like Rajesh Khannna were around, a trend further cemented by Shah Rukh Khan in the 90s. But of late, it is the south Indian population in places like the Silicon Valley that has taken over.”
Pillai added that in Malaysia Tamil cinema is ahead of Hindi cinema, and even in the United Arab Emirates, Tamil cinema has reached about 50 percent of Bollywood’s market.
Atul Mohan, editor of Complete Cinema, believes that regional films are more successful because they are of higher quality. Regional films are more focused on content.
This surge in regional success comes as a threat to Bollywood’s impressive history. In 2012 alone, Bollywood sold 2.6 billion tickets, over 1 billion more than Hollywood. In 2016, Bollywood sold 2.2 billion tickets, while Hollywood sold 1.31 billion.
Domestically, Hindi films continue to do well. With a current domestic gross of 192.79 million rupees, Golmaal Again could reach the 2 billion rupees mark, a milestone in Indian cinema. Dangal, a Bollywood film released just last year, made 5.4 billion rupees on a budget of 700 million rupees.