Has Tollywood Become Bigger Than Bollywood?

 
Tollywood

India has more than 29 major languages based on which states are divided. Out of the 29 languages spoken, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, Bhojpuri have their own film industries with decent revenues. But among the aforementioned languages Hindi, Tamil, Telugu films are the biggest film industries. But with Hindi being spoken across the length & breadth of the country, understood by a very high percentage of the population has been the biggest, most dominant film industry of the country. But 2021 was Tollywood's year. While Bollywood movies starring their biggest stars either did not release in theatres or flopped upon release, Tollywood had a great year. Sooryavanshi was the only exception. This has made several people question whether it is just a matter of time before Tollywood dethrones Bollywood as the country's dominant film industry.

theopinionatedindian analyzes the possible outcome of this closely fought competition among the two industries.

Tollywood Fans Vs Bollywood Fans

While Tollywood fans literally worship their stars, Bollywood fans are a ruthless lot. While Amitabh Bachchan - Bollywood's biggest superstar ever was forced to reinvent himself at 56, after his stereotypical action movies with him in the lead role started bombing. Amitabh Bachchan has rarely been seen in a hit solo hero movie apart from Pink. 55+ year old Bollywood superstars - Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan & Aamir Khan too are being forced to rethink their movie choices after their last few movies fared badly. On the other hand, Tollywood has given a much longer rope to its superstars namely Nagarjuna, Chiranjeevi, NTR, Balakrishna, etc. 

Most children of Tollywood stars like Balakrishna, NTR Jr, Allu Arjun, Ram Charan, Nagarjuna, Mahesh Babu have thriving careers, whereas Ranbir Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Karishma Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Sunny Deol are the only star kids turned superstars in the last four decades. 

NTR - the biggest Tollywood megastar in the 80's went on to become the CM of Andhra Pradesh several times. Chiranjeevi - Tollywood's megastar too went on to become a central minister, but a thriving career in Bollywood doesn't necessarily lead to success in politics.

While Bollywood celebs are facing a backlash over charges of nepotism & copying content from other film industries, Tollywood fans have no such issues. One must note that nepotism is more rampant in Tollywood as compared to Bollywood. Tollywood too is guilty of remaking hits from other film industries.

As many Bollywood celebs like Rohit Shetty, Taapsee Pannu have pointed out this adoration of Tollywood fans also results in mediocre movies turning out to be box office hits. 

Tollywood Stars Are More Understanding

Most Tollywood stars are sons, relatives of producers themselves. They know the trouble a producer goes through during the making of a movie. That explains why Tollywood stars are more disciplined & more understanding as compared to their Bollywood counterparts. Tollywood stars work on a flat fee structure & their salaries are justified in terms of box office dynamics. Bollywood celebs on the other hand charge an astronomical fee. Bollywood celebs are not only paid a fixed salary but are also paid a share of the profits. Bollywood stars become producers of their movies without having to pay a single penny upfront. This makes Bollywood movies less viable. How can one explain Akshay Kumar, whose last release - Sooryavasnhi, which grossed 290cr globally, being paid 200cr for his upcoming movie with Vashu Bhagnani? Or a Salman Khan whose last few movies have barely crossed 200cr, asking for 100cr+ per movie?

The reasonable acting fees of Tollywood stars give more legroom for their producers to spend on their production values, which leads to a superior product.

S.S Rajamouli

Apart from Tamil movie director Shankar's movies starring Rajnikanth, Bollywood movies have been the biggest box officers grossers in India & abroad. But director S.S Rajamouli changed the equation with his Baahubali franchise. Baahubali 2 was the biggest hit upon release in 2017. It is also one of the biggest Indian box office grossers. No Tollywood movie made before has ever had this kind of acceptance pan- India

Future Looks Brighter For Tollywood

While Bollywood's A-list stars like Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Aayushmann Khurana are struggling, Tollywood A-list stars - Allu Arjun, Pawan Kalyan, Ram Charan, NTR Jr, Balakrishna, etc are thriving. The total gross of Tollywood movies was 1070cr vs 771 cr of Bollywood.

While Tollywood's big bets like the Baahubali franchise, Pushpa worked, Bollywood's Thugs Of Hindostan, Zero, etc bombed. Ranbir Kapoor's Brahmasthra is yet to release even after 3 years of being in the making.

Tollywood has several movies with a budget of 250cr+. While Bollywood movie budgets are a lot less ambitious, considering that Bollywood's median box office gross is much bigger than Tollywood.

The Pandemic

One must admit that it is unfair to compare Bollywood to Tollywood in 2021. While Bollywood's biggest market - Mumbai was shut down by the MVA government completely in 2021 & for most of 2021, Andhra Pradesh gave a much longer window.

But the pandemic, which led to Indians working from home led to many Indians who had not watched Tollywood movies apart from Baahubali earlier watching them on OTT platforms with subtitles. Hindi movie TV channels that have been airing Hindi dubbed versions of South Indian movies too have aided in the growth & acceptance of Bollywood. That explains why the biggest Hindi language hit from Nizam territory - War grossed just 21cr, while Pushpa has grossed above 64cr from Hindi audiences.

But All Is Not Lost For Bollywood

2022 & 2023 will see a more playing ground for the two film industries. Bollywood's biggest box office draw in terms of breaking box-office records - Aamir Khan will be seen in Laal Singh Chaddha. One must not forget that his penultimate release Dangal broke Baahubali 2's box office records globally. Bollywood's answer to Shankar & S.S Rjamouli - Rajkumar Hirani will have a release in 2023. His movie stars Shahrukh Khan in the lead.

On the other hand, Tollywood & India's biggest filmmaker S.S Rajamouli's RRR made on a budget of 450cr will release soon & it is expected to break all existing box office records.

But one must not forget that in a non-pandemic year the total business of Bollywood movies is way higher than Tollywood. Prabhas's Saaho couldn't recreate the Baahubali magic. It remains to be seen whether his Adipurush, Radhe Shyam & Salaar turn out to pan India hits. Allu Arjun's Pushpa's gross of 270cr+ is not as big as Bollywood's top grossers like War, Tiger Zinda Hai, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, etc.

Our Verdict

So while Bollywood is the bigger industry as of today - if all its movies get to release, Tollywood has brighter prospects. Bollywood needs to pull up its socks if it wants to maintain its position as the numero uno film industry of India.

   

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