Will Tollywood overtake Bollywood

February 10, 2023

In a recent string of developments in the Indian film industry, it seems that collaborations between Bollywood and regional cinema are becoming increasingly common. Ranveer Singh is set to work with Tamil filmmaker Shankar for a remake of superstar Vikram’s ‘Anniyan’. Meanwhile, Ajay Devgan and Alia Bhatt have landed roles in SS Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’, and Shah Rukh Khan’s upcoming film directed by Tamil filmmaker Atlee features Tamil & Telugu star Nayanthara in a lead role.

However, amidst these partnerships, it seems that regional cinema is calling the shots in the Indian film industry. Vishnu Induri, the maker of ‘Thalaivii’, ’83’ and many other films in the South, stated that while Bollywood may have a larger audience, the South film industry is also making movies with the same level of technology and expertise. In fact, hit films from the Telugu industry are fetching dubbing rights of Rs 30 to 50 crore, indicating a growing demand for regional content.

How did Tollywood movies become so popular with Bollywood?


With the work-from-home culture becoming the new norm, many Indians who had previously not ventured beyond the blockbuster Baahubali, have now turned to OTT platforms to watch regional cinema, aided by subtitles.


Moreover, the Hindi movie TV channels have been quick to tap into this trend by airing Hindi dubbed versions of popular South Indian movies, thus bridging the gap between Bollywood and Tollywood. This has led to a remarkable increase in the acceptance of regional cinema, as evidenced by the box office collections.


The recent box office success of Pushpa, which has grossed above 64cr from the Hindi audiences alone, compared to the biggest Hindi language hit from Nizam territory – War, which grossed only 21cr, speaks volumes about the growing popularity of Tollywood movies in the country. With such developments, it seems that regional cinema is all set to give Bollywood a run for its money.


Moreover, regional cinema contributed 47% to the Indian film industry’s overall revenues in 2019, while Bollywood’s share was 40%. As per a report released at the FICCI Frames Summit in 2020, the total revenues of both industries stood at around $2.7 billion in FY 2018-2019.


This trend is expected to continue, with regional content playing a big role in the growth of online video services. It’s estimated that this segment will grow at a CAGR of 30% during FY20-24 to reach $2.5 billion, up from $0.6 billion in FY19.

While Bollywood seems to be disconnecting with its audience, South Indian movies continue to resonate with archetypal storylines that do not degrade the family system in the name of criticism. With the South Indian industry on the rise, it’s high time Bollywood starts focusing on its creative aspects or risk being left behind in the cinema world.