DC Edit | South films’ moment of glory

The success of South Indian films is no accident, and we have waited long enough

Money no more holds a monopoly of association with the word “afford” than Bollywood, or the Hindi film industry, has over the notion of being India’s entertainer. True, for far too long, Bollywood has been central to the idea, but like Mumbai cricket, no longer has a stranglehold over reaching out to the masses nationally.

Beyond box office collections, a crucial but simultaneously irrelevant aspect to most people, the South Indian film industry has grabbed the attention of the country. While Malayalam movies have long been acknowledged for their thematic and content, and artistic skill, its legends like Mohanlal and Mammootty were denied the same star acknowledgment pan-India unfairly.

The Tamil film industry has created superstars for an entire nation to acknowledge and movies to enthral people beyond geographic boundaries in icons like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, but both of them, given the vicious grip of Hindi films, were humbled into trying their hand at films in the-then Bombay, and returned with modest achievements. Today, Rajini is a global icon, as big as, if not bigger than, a Big B or the three Khans.

The Telugu film industry has surpassed every possible highpoint of Bollywood when it culminated in a raging creative outburst for years in the recent rise of S.S. Rajamouli and his series of unsurpassable magnum opuses, long after movies like Sankarabharanam or iconic stars like NTR, ANR or Chiranjeevi were celebrated nationally but short of their actual achievement.

The Kannada film industry, of which except the iconic stature of the late Rajkumar, nothing was really known, too, has emerged out of the shadows of its powerful neighbouring cousin industries, to give Bollywood a nightmare of a benchmark in mass appeal and BO success.

The selective social media uproar over Tollywood superstar Mahesh Babu’s statement that Bollywood cannot afford him was met with blasé boredom by the real fans of Southern films because they know they have arrived as the National Film Industry, and Bollywood can now truly afford to sit back, and let their counterparts carry the tag of being Indian.

The success of South Indian films is no accident, and we have waited long enough. So see you at the next show, and hope the popcorn is not bitter.

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