NEW DELHI: The Telugu and Tamil film industries are seeing double budgets for films as they find public acceptance across the country through multiple dubbed versions. Prabhas’ next film with KGF director Prashanth Neel, Allu Arjun’s Pushpa 2, SS Rajamouli’s upcoming film with Mahesh Babu and Ram Charan’s film with S. Shankar are among the many projects budgeted between Rs. 150 million and 200 crore each, which looks at large scale, action and visual effects and wider distribution for nationwide success.

Southern cinema, especially Hindi dubbed movies, have seen their satellite TV and streaming rights increase by 300% over the past decade due to their growing popularity. As a result, manufacturers have been able to increase budgets as they try to cater to audiences outside of their home states where they’ve already maximized returns, industry experts said. For example, Chiranjeevi’s upcoming film Godfather by the Telugu star, which also features Salman Khan and is scheduled for Dussehra weekend, sold ancillary rights for around Rs. 100 million.

Not only that, once the first part of a franchise is a success, a lot more money is spent on the second part. “The attraction around the franchise has to be preserved or magnified,” said Atul Mohan, editor of the trade magazine Complete Cinema. Clearly, Southern filmmakers understand the attractiveness of movie franchises and stars, and are investing a lot of money in upcoming titles to woo mass-market audiences in the Hindi bracket as well. Film producer Anand Pandit said the success of the Baahubali franchise led to budget expansion and Southern cinema produced several pan-Indian hits. They also learned from Hollywood that it exploits the potential of multiple language markets in India through voice acting, he said.

In 2018, KGF: Chapter 1 had earned a little more than Rs. 44 crore from its Hindi version. In 2022, KGF: Chapter 2 totaled Rs. 434 crore from its single dubbed Hindi version. Actors such as Ram Charan and Jr. NTR, who have both been successful in the Hindi belt with RRR, will appear in high-budget films, Untitled Adventures respectively with directors S. Shankar and Koratala Siva, which will see wide distribution throughout the country.

Independent business analyst Sreedhar Pillai pointed out that Southern filmmakers are confident in the attraction of the theatrical medium with fans continuing to flock for the latest movies from the stars they adore. Between Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vijay, Dhanush, Suriya, Ajith, Arun Vijay and Silambarasan TR, only Tamil cinema can guarantee a dozen turntables every year. “Everything is worked out based on the market value of the leading actor,” said Pillai.

Film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar, however, pointed out that producers in the south are much more cost conscious and do not spend recklessly. “Even though the upcoming films, say, Allu Arjun, Suriya or Prabhas are very heavy, it is based on what the script requires,” Johar said.

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