Investment or gamble? Post-KGF, Kannada filmmakers plot pan-India films
The KGF franchise has certainly raised the bar for the Kannada film Industry. Most filmmakers in Kannada want to see similar success and are going all out to make pan-India films. Dhruva Sarja, the action prince of the Kannada film industry, has two films in the works that will see a countrywide release. ‘Martin’ and his yet-to-be-titled film with director Prem will be released in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi.
Interestingly, filmmakers in the Kannada film Industry are making pan-India films for debutants. Take, for example, ‘Banaras’ and ‘Junior’. Both films will see sons of well-known Karnataka politicians take the plunge into the entertainment Industry.
Zaid Khan, son of Congress MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan, makes his debut as a hero in ‘Banaras’, and Kireeti Reddy, son of former BJP Minister Janardhan Reddy, will be launched as a leading man in ‘Junior’.
‘Banaras’ and ‘Junior’ are being made with big budget and high hopes. The filmmakers have announced that their films would have a pan-India reach by releasing it in multiple languages across the country.
Some critics say this is an overly ambitious move. Their opinions are based on the box-office result of Rakshit Shetty’s ‘Charlie 777’ and Kichcha Sudeep’s ‘Vikrant Rona’. Both the films were released in multiple languages, but failed to achieve the success KGF Chapter 1 and 2 had.
Will pan-India films help recover investment?
Filmmakers have their own calculations when it comes to recovering their investments. For some, the investment is made to get recognised as a pan-India actor/filmmaker and newbies have joined the bandwagon with their debut films. For others, it’s purely business.
Sources say that when a Kannada film is dubbed in at least four other languages, it helps them strike a better deal with satellite rights and OTT. According to insiders, even if the film does not see a theatrical release in other languages, dubbing in multiple languages will fetch them a good deal. It is being said that Kannada filmmakers can get to release their films in multiple languages on an OTT platform as well as release their dubbed films on regional channels belonging to the same network.
It’s content, not stars, that works
A P Arjun, the director of Dhruva Sarja’s upcoming pan-India film, says that it’s the content that can take a film across borders and not just the actors in it. Arjun feels that a film’s story must suit the nativity of audience across the country. He says that the scale of the film is equally important to take a Kannada film across India. The director is happy that several Kannada filmmakers are taking the bold step of making pan-India films and hopes that it will help the industry at least five years from now.
“The Tamil and Telugu film industry ventured into Karnataka about 15-20 years ago and acquired the market even though many of them lost money during the initial days. Thanks to digitalisation, we (Kannada film industry) can take our films across borders in India and abroad. Subtitles and dubbing on OTT and other platforms will make audience take notice of the Kannada film industry. Some films might not do well initially, but in five years, the Kannada film industry will dominate the market. We must take those risks and challenges for the betterment of our film industry,” said director AP Arjun.
Dhruva Sarja has a great track record at the box office and it is no surprise that filmmakers are willing to bet big on him at a pan-India level. But how about debutants following the trend? B V Jayatheertha, who is directing Zaid Khan in ‘Banaras’, says there is nothing wrong in being ambitious.
Jayatheertha claims that no film, including those of superstars, can guarantee success at the box office. He says that if a film’s content is liked by the audience, it would do well across borders. He even added that responses to a film across borders might boost the business in our state.
“Charlie 777 and Vikrant Rona did not do well commercially at the box office in dubbed languages. However, these two films were appreciated by the audience and critics across the country and that boosted the box office numbers in Karnataka. Our film ‘Banaras’ is shot mostly in North India and people in the Hindi belt will be able to connect with our story and hence, we took the decision to make it into a pan-India film,” said Jayatheertha.
Worth taking a risk
The director is aware of the financial risks involved in making a pan-India film with a debutant, but is not worried about the results. “I’m aware that the dubbing and promotions across India would increase our budget, but it would be worth the risk if we win. A lot of actors have become superstars overnight with their debut films and Zaid Khan could be next. The film’s producer is willing to take the gamble and that gives us more enthusiasm to work harder to make ‘Banaras’ a superhit film across India,” said Jayatheertha.
Kannada films have been dubbed in Hindi and other languages for decades. The dubbed version has worked well on satellite television and with the success of KGF franchise, a new market has opened for theatrical release of dubbed Kannada films.
There is no doubt that a pan-India film will help actors and filmmakers build an image for themselves, but how much of it will make sense economically is a million-dollar question.