Regional goes national

With successful films like Sairat, Takatak, Ventilator, the Baahubali franchise and Saho which have broken the Rs 100 crore mark, we have seen a new trend in how audiences consume cinema in India over the past few years — regional cinema is breaking the barriers of language to score big in Hindi-speaking regions. Here’s an interesting fact for you: while Bollywood is the favoured genre in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, audiences in metros prefer regional cinema.

“Hollywood and Bollywood have a percentage share of 38% and 47% respectively while under our new initiative we have screened 15% regional language films,” shares Kamal Gianchandani, CEO PVR Pictures.

He points out, “Regional population staying in metro cities tend to pick movies of their native language while Tier-2 city audiences tend to pick Hollywood films which never released in their cities.

If one wants to watch a particular movie at a theatre and the said movie is no longer running, PVR VKAAO app and website lets one create a movie screening at a theatre of one’s choice, and at preferred time and date. This screening will then be made available on the platform(s) for other users to join. If enough people pay up for the screening, one gets to watch it on the big screen.”

“The demand for both regional and other screenings have been compelling across markets. Typically about 20% of the screenings in metros are for regional cinema while they form about 12% in non-metro cities,” says Marzdi Kalianiwala of BookMyShow.

Sameer Dixit of Pickle Entertainment opines, “My recent film Takatak in Marathi has done a record business of more than Rs.50 crore and I am getting offers to remake it in other languages too. Sairat with Rs 100 crore business started the boom and later there were many spawns of the same film because it’s like a bhedchaal where everyone rushes to make films like a winner like Sairat.

I believe the OTT platforms like Amazon and Netflix are responsible for the surge in the business of regional films because now they have an another avenue for their films. The rich content in Marathi films like Court and others have led to the rise of Marathi cinema. Even Gujarati films are doing well like Karsandas Pay and Use and Chhello Divas, which before had a negligible market.

Punjabi films have a big overseas market like in Canada and the audio market in Punjabi is booming. Films like Jatt and Juliet have done record business. But Punjabi cinema is still in its nascent stage and very regional specific in areas around East Punjab and North and Canada and UK.”

Analysing the trend, actor-producer Shreyas Talpade opines, “There is greater awareness today as a result of which people have started flocking to the theatres. Earlier, people would make films, but there would be no marketing or publicity.

The second is what has always worked for South and Hindi films — the youth connect. In the South, it was cool for a young couple to watch a South Indian film on a date.

Till now, the Maharashtrian youth was not kicked about watching films made in their mother tongue. Now, with different types of films being made, they are embracing the quality stuff being offered to them.

The third is the subject. With a new breed of filmmakers coming in, they are exploring newer ideas and providing something of substance. My films like the ‘Poshter Boy’ franchise, ‘Baaji’ have done good business and I will continue to do good films in Marathi.”

Adds Sunil Lulla, “Regional cinema has witnessed some excellent content this year, contributing to its significant growth pan-India. Also, a lot of our films, like ‘Sardar Gabbar Singh’, were given a huge release platform outside of the regional market/ state.

Encouraged by our success in the regional markets, we have scaled up our pipeline across languages — Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, among others,” says Sunil Lulla, CEO, Eros International. So now it can be seen that there has been a paradigm shift in the business of regional films on an all India market scale and this booming business is likely to help regional filmmakers make films rich in content with commercial and content values. However, makers should avoid making films randomly and without good subjects or content.

Avers Ajit Andhare, CEO at Viacom18 Motion Pictures, “Ex-south, most of the regional movie business is not particularly star-driven. This means the talent cost is fairly rationalised, the movie not front-loaded with high talent cost.

So, profit delivery is high in the regional markets, which will help grow the market in terms of output because studios and producers will have more money to put into future projects. It is an extremely return-driven market and that has helped maintain profitability.”

Here’s looking forward to more films rich in content and commercial values — in the language of one’s choice.