Dilani Rabindran




Actresses Tamannah and Taapsee’s recent Bollywood debuts Himmatwala and Chashme Baddoor are no surprises. They’re the most recent South Indian personalities to make the move to Hindi films after proving their mettle in Tamil and Telugu blockbusters. Neither are South Indian in heritage but both actresses quickly rose to fame and found their true footing down South. Whether or not both actresses will continue in Hindi films is uncertain, but they’ve upheld the tradition of South Indian artists trying to make a name for themselves in Bollywood and solidify a national status.

With India’s massive population and rampant diversity, becoming a Pan-Indian star is a big deal.  With several burgeoning film industries and globalization bringing in talent from outside India too, there is plenty of celebrity competition. To become a national star is in itself like becoming recognized by a separate world. While Kollywood actors might ‘dabble’ in Bollywood they usually maintain their primary status in the South (ie. Siddharth, and soon Dhanush), but it is common for Tamil actresses to make ‘more permanent’ moves to Hindi films if they find success in their debuts; Asin and Genelia are both examples. There are also occasions when Bollywood stars do Tamil films (ie. Sameera Reddy) or have started out in Hindi and found better success in the South (ie. treasures Jyothika and Simran). But why does this popular pattern of actresses moving from the South into Bollywood even exist? Why wouldn’t these actresses, commonly not even South Indian in heritage, focus on breaking into Hindi films right away? Well because this is much easier said than done and this is one significant way South Indian cinema differentiates itself from Bollywood - it is far more welcoming to newcomers.

It could be because there are several South Indian film industries producing an impressive number of projects at any given time, but Hindi cinema also makes plenty of large and small films. So the more logical explanation is simply: ‘family legacies’. Almost all of Hindi cinema’s brightest stars hail from film dynasties, and the majority of its new leads are somehow related to an already well-known industry professional (ie. Parineeti Chopra is Priyanka Chopra’s cousin, and the dashing Imran Khan is Aamir Khan’s nephew.)

The system is not necessarily a bad thing. We love seeing multiple generations of the Bachchans, Deols, Khans and multiple Kapoor families on screen and many Bollywood offspring are extremely talented artists on their own merit. Of course some ‘unconnected’ talents sometimes breakthrough in Bollywood, and some family legacies exist in South Indian cinema too. But this effect is only much more popular now with Rajinikanth, Kamal Hassan, Sivakumar and Radha’s children all leading Kollywood during the same era. Furthermore family associations don’t dominate the market since many reigning stars come from ‘unconnected’ families and many production houses are constantly on the search for new faces. So, if it weren’t for the South’s welcoming nature would Bollywood even have noticed some of the stars who started in the South but now reign Hindi cinema today? It’s concerning to think they may have not – because that list includes internationally renowned actresses Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra and Sridevi.

Of course not all actresses/actors who moved from the South to Bollywood have found long-term success, but this methodology will likely never change. We are, however, in the age of progression, where Bollywood is paying increased attention to the South with Southern divisions of major production companies (ex. UTV), remakes of blockbusters like Thuppakki, and films with South Indian related plots – including Shahrukh Khan’s forthcoming Chennai Express. In the age of globalization and increased ties between the Hindi and South Indian cinema industries we will undoubtedly see a greater amount of collaboration, and hopefully that will mean more chances for worthy artists to become true Pan-Indian stars.

Respond to dilani.behindwoods@gmail.com
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.



This page hosts the views of the authors of the column. The views are generally about films, movie reviews, movie news, songs, music, film actors and actresses, directors, producers, cinematographers, music directors, and all others that contribute for the success or failure of a film. People looking for movies online, movie reviews, movie analysis, public response for a movie, will find this page useful.