South Cinema Conquers OTT: The import of ideas is from South to North and not North to South
South Cinema, especially, has been the game-changer in the last couple of years and has catered phenomenal content that one can't stop talking about.
When someone talks about Indian films, one is likely to think first about Bollywood and Hindi music. However, in the past few years and amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, that has changed somewhere as regional cinema steps in a bigger way, courtesy OTT platforms. South Cinema, especially, has been the game-changer in the last couple of years and has catered phenomenal content that one can't stop talking about. Movies like Baahubali, KGF: Chapter 2 are sure the game changers of South Indian cinema but, the content, entirely, is getting wider reach globally now.
Entertainment industry tracker Ramesh Bala states that people have finally discovered that South content is relatable and good stories are being told. "One thing is there that before OTT it was only theatrical release option...all the big movies like of Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan would only release in Mumbai and there was not much chance for others have this reach through theatrical release. Now due to pandemic and with OTT, people have more time to watch the content in other languages also. In the last 2-3 years people have discovered that South content is relatable or good stories are being told. Now there are more Pan-India movies coming from the South even though OTT has opened the market. A lot of South star who never went beyond their state, they are taking Pan-India way. 10-20 movies including RRR, Pushpa are looking for the release all over."
He further continues stating that Hindi Cinema has slowed down somewhere in between everything. "Many Malayalam actors like Fahadh Faasil have become popular on OTT and they think why not explore when the market is there also for a better price. 60 per cent of the movies on OTT are from the Southern region. Movies like The Great Indian Kitchen, which might not have a reach for a wider audience have performed extremely well on OTT. Niche and content-oriented movies are doing well...OTT has opened up for a wider audience and the language barrier is kind of going away. Even Cold Case of Prithiviraj, if the movie does well on OTT, more people will want to watch. Be it Hollywood, Korena, Tamil, Bengali or any language, the word of mouth spread on social media helps."
Film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi, on the other hand, states that the quality of content down South is supreme. "There is no doubt about the fact that the Southern Fraternity has a movie crazy audience. The quality of content and degree of novelty in their content is perhaps supreme. I have no doubts that streaming platforms would be interested to tap upon the stardom of talents down south to increase their subscribers.
The movie going culture is so strong down south, unlike the Hindi film industry, it's more like a habit. When a South film releases, there is collective euphoria that the fans want to enjoy, which can happen in theatres. Despite that, the chain has been broken and there is a consumption of content on the digital world. Another observation is the fact that they have demarcated the content that's apt for streaming and theatrical medium," says Trade and film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi.
He further puts across a very relevant point that the import of ideas is from South to North and not North to South. "Films like Valimai, Beast, Annatthe, Pushpa are all sticking back for a theatrical experience for the celebrations. There is no doubt that they are scoring over us in content. Look at the number of films from Tamil, Telugu, Kannada that are being remade in Hindi - the import of ideas is from South to North and not North to South. They are able to relate with the pulse of the audience," he adds.