Mumbai: Whenever a Bollywood actress debuts in Telugu, the film garners a lot of hype but till date, none of the top stars like Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, Bipasha Basu, Shilpa Shetty and Namrata Shirodkar among others tasted success. Their Tollywood films flopped badly! Priyanka Chopra’s Telugu debut Toofan (Zanjeer in Hindi) was much anticipated. However, the chemistry between Ram Charan and her failed to create a spark and the duo seemed a complete mismatch. The film tanked. Apoorva Lakhia, who helmed the action-entertainer, shares, “I thought Priyanka Chopra would bring a fresh perspective to the audience in the modern version of Zanjeer. We etched her role according to the script.”
But comparisons with the original are inevitable, so maybe the audience thought otherwise.” Kangana Ranaut’s Telugu debut Ek Niranjan also sank. She eventually turned out to be only a glam quotient in the action-drama. Filmmaker Puri Jagannadh, who cast the Queen actress, explains, “Kangana could match Prabhas’ height. Also, she was generating a good buzz in Bollywood at that time, so I thought it could rub off on our film if we roped her in. But it didn’t work out.”
Similarly, actresses like Bipasha Basu (Takkari Donga), Shilpa Shetty (Saahasaveerudu Sagarakanya) and Namrata Shirodkar (Vamsee) made forgettable Tollywood debuts. So, given the background, ask Shraddha Kapoor about her upcoming Telugu debut Saaho and she’s all smiles. “I am very happy that filmmakers have thought of me. I was excited when I heard the script and was keyed up to work with Prabhas. It is always a pleasant feeling to be part of a film where you love the script and character. Also, regional cinema is growing beyond boundaries and cinema within India is going through a transformation. I’m glad to be part of the change,” she explains.
Saaho director Sujeeth exudes confidence over Shraddha’s inclusion. He’s not worried about the jinx factor. “Casting is directly proportional to the roles written. Shraddha’s character has several shades — emotion, action, drama and humour. Since the film is also being made in multiple languages, we need an actress who can bring authenticity to the role. Post release, her role will be most talked about,” he states.
Interestingly, a lack of home-grown actresses compels filmmakers to look out for Bollywood actresses, says director Teja. “I have given a casting call for several of my films, but out of 1,000 aspirants; only four to five Telugu girls turn up. Getting a Telugu girl for a project is a huge problem. Since these girls come from conservative families, parents don’t want their daughters to be in the news for rumours, links ups and alleged affairs. Bollywood actresses are camera-ready because they come with hands-on experience, so they can directly join the sets and save us a lot of time,” he says.
From a trade perspective, an established Bollywood actress has an edge, says producer Burugupalli Sivaramakrishna, who cast Shilpa Shetty in her debut film Saahasaveerudu Sagarakanya. He explains, “Naturally, the bigger the actress is, the better the buzz when it comes to reputed Bollywood imports. The buyers and exhibitors too vie for the rights. Also, the theatrical rights (dubbing) and the satellite price (TV) of the film in the North can be better negotiated because the actress is known pan-India.”