Ever thought that those, Zee Cinema and Set Max’s Hindi dubbed south movies would disrupt the entire notion of your ‘content consumption’ one day? Never really, right? Even though we loosely remember the film titles, we can still make a clear recall of witnessing Prabhas, Anushka Shetty, Nayanthara, Ravi Teja, Pawan Kalyan and others in the movies and absolutely loving them. For aeons, the imposition of Hindi has been burdening, following the uproar of the Bollywood dynasty. The Bollywood industry sabotaged the other aspects and diversification of Indian cinema, with a gaudy spin-off of high-budget movies. And most of the Indian audience unaware of the ‘remake race’ used to boast of the films. You might say not “remake” but “adaptation”, but there’s an ethical artistic fine line between these two vocables. Bollywood did it for a long, but not just Bollywood, every other industry has done it, inside India and outside India.
But what Bollywood, which enormously represents India on a global absolute; missed out on, is its ‘roots’. Especially when you are making movies for the masses; rooting becomes important, rooting to realm and culture. Forgetting your origins leads to misfiring, and that’s what Bollywood has been going through these past years. The constant denial of the evolution of art, of the mass, of the era, is what has brought in the massacre.
The anger against Bollywood is not regarding the high box office numbers that it brought in over the decades. The outrage lies in the poor representation and stereotyping of particular tribes. South Indians are always Madrasis and are limited to ‘Aiyyo’, Punjabis are always over-enthused in their scripts, Bengalis are always obsessed with Rabindra Sangeet with poor Hindi dialect; the list goes on! And with this, Indians got programmed to believe it.
Not saying that we have stopped celebrating ‘stereotyping’, for it has gone thoroughly rooted amongst Indians; but thanks to the ones who are recognising the ‘silly’. But stereotyping isn’t the only issue here, the ‘same old wine in new bottles’ kind of screenplays also happen to be overlooked by the filmmakers. Too much fancy to put on but with zero ‘content’; it’s no more ‘content is the king’ in Bollywood!
Investing humongous budgets, still creating larger-than-life characters with no optimum growth! This is why Kantara (2022) works here! A 16-cr film making a massive number of 116 crores at the box office; with a story deeply rooted in culture, myth, forest reservation and indigenous and with zero ‘glam’. Kantara proved that movies can be made upon such delicate, social issues too and that too for the masses. Kantara gave off a distinct cinematic experience to witness.
As we discuss the south cinema wave, it’s fair to say that it all started off with Baahubali starring Prabhas. The movie celebrated Indian mythology in its full reach. It’s been then that the consumption shifted. And now the list is never-ending. Vikram (2022) starring Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi, and Suriya earned around 500 crores at the box office, RRR starring Ram Charan, Jr NTR, and Alia Bhatt made a massive number of 1200 crores at the box office, KGF 2 starring Yash made 1250 crores, Ponniyin Selvan: Part One earned 550 crores approx., Pushpa starring Allu Arjun and Rashmika Mandanna got terrific pan-Indian success, 777Charlie (Budget 20 crores) made a number 105 crores at the box office.
The radicles of south cinema
As we discuss South cinema, it’s crucial to deep dive into where the rooting begins!
At the start of the 20th century, India saw the exposure of cinema as it prepared for significant social and political change. Encountered with technological advancements, a culture that had remained stagnant for centuries was undergoing dramatic changes. New status signifiers and connections to abroad ideas had recently been rendered possible by the advent of cars, aircraft, radio broadcasts, and photograph documents. At the same time, as regional language journals, such as those in Tamil, were just being published all over the nation, the press had emerged as a new force in the sculpting of civic perception. This served as the facade for the emergence of cinema. It was to take on the contours of a significant socio-cultural force in the ensuing decades.
When cinema first arose throughout South India, it catered for the notion of “The Passing of a Traditional Society”, which is a book by Daniel Lerner. Erst of all, it yielded a location where members of all clans could assemble, buy tickets, and enjoy a pooled form of entertainment. Never had that transpired before. The cinema was a form of entertainment that anyone could afford, unlike conventional entertainment manifestations and recreational facilities that catered to elite groups in a rigidly stratified society. The lines between caste and class bureaucracy were broken by it.
Films started to sway public opinion on issues like nationalism, social reform, and war in a way which no other device had done before. Madras had regular commercial movie exhibitions by the year 1900, and permeant movie theatres soon followed. “Raja Harishchandra,” the first Indian motion picture, was generated in Bombay in 1912, and “Keechakavatham,” the very first south Indian screenplay, was yielded in Madras in 1916. Both were crafted from tales chosen to take from well-known myths. India Film Company opened its doors as Madras’ first studio in 1916.
They say ‘consistency is the key’! And that’s what the south cinema has rooted for in its elevation! And still is deeply rooted in its culture! But Bollywood isn’t. Cinema should always be ‘the passing of the traditions’. Let’s not forget that ‘discovery’ and ‘communication’ are the paramount significance of cinema.
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