Bollywood can’t hide any longer as even Hollywood finds resurgence in Indian domestic market
Growing up in Hyderabad, a fairly cosmopolitan city, it was common to have North Indian friends who refused to watch Telugu films with you. I remember some Punjabi friends making fun of the over-the-top Telugu movies having loud characters and regionally-relevant humour that were the mainstay of Telugu cinema in the 90s and early 2000s. Cut to 2022. The same friends were seen attempting to book the first day, first show tickets for SS Rajamouli’s RRR for their entire family. After the movie, they only have the best things to say about Jr NTR, Ram Charan, SS Rajamouli and his magnum opus. What a change of heart and tastes!
Something changed after the national release of Baahubali: The Beginning, it put regional movies on the map and gave audiences across the country a slice of entertainment that is proving extremely hard for Bollywood to replicate. Or for that matter, most film industries in the country are struggling to cater to the pan-Indian palette. These industries haven't seen much growth after bearing the impact of the pandemic except the Kannada film industry, which gave us the KGF franchise.
Telugu cinema has held its weight against the impact of the pandemic while other film industries struggled to stay afloat. Here’s proof: according to the latest Ormax Box Office Report, Telugu cinema was the strongest industry in the pandemic years, with 28% share in the domestic box office revenues in 2020-21 (cumulative). This is a 16 per cent increase from 2019; in the same period, Bollywood saw a 17 per cent dip and Hollywood also saw a dip of 4 per cent.
From a 44 per cent share at the box office in 2019, Bollywood’s share fell to 27 per cent in 2020-21 due to very few major releases in the pandemic years.
Interestingly, Telugu Cinema is the only film industry where the box office collections during 2020-2021 were more than that of the collections in 2019. This is a reflection of the rate at which the industry is recovering.
In the last two years, four of the top 10 films at the national box office are from the Telugu film industry.
You won't find a single Telugu film nor a South Indian film in the 2014 list. On the other hand, movies made in the Telugu film industry have become linchpins in the post-pandemic lists.
(*All the above figures have been sourced from IMDb)
Sound of the footfalls
It’s not just the domestic box office share that Tollywood is dominating; it also dominates the domestic footfall share. In 2019, before the pandemic hit, the number of domestic footfalls was 103 Crore. After falling to 22.5 Crore in 2020, it recovered to hit 42.7 Crore in 2021. The recovery could be attributed to Telugu cinema which saw 16.1 Crore footfalls in 2021, which is just a little less than the 2021 footfalls of Hindi, English, and Tamil cinema put together.
Bollywood movies saw a footfall of 4.5 Crore, a decrease from 6.1 Crore in 2020. Hollywood movies in India increased to 3.4 Crore in 2021 against 0.6 Crore in 2020.
Future is Telugu?
The end of the year 2022 will give us more clarity on the way forward for film industries vying for the top position at the Indian box office. Of all, Bollywood has the most to prove and restore, bit by bit. The upcoming Hindi releases in 2022 are Liger (bilingual), Brahmastra (pan-Indian), Vikram Vedha, PS-1 (pan-Indian), Ram Setu, Thank God, Yodha, Ganpath, and Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali.
While almost every one of these movies is a big-budget, big superstar film, we still have to wait till the end of December to perceive Bollywood’s fate. One thing is for sure: they cannot afford another Laal Singh Chaddha-sized flop this year if they plan to keep up with Tollywood in 2022 as well as 2023. Sita Ramam and Bimbisara, have whet the audiences’ appetites and Karthikeya 2 is all poised to take over the Hindi belt. Bring it on, Bollywood?
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Updated date: Friday, 26 Aug 2022 - 5:30 PM