Updated: February 8, 2022 8:52:57 am
The theatre-going audience in the Hindi belt has acquired a taste for the type of mass movies made in south India, which are different in tone and tenor from Bollywood. The chairman of Goldmines Telefilms Manish Shah has a significant role in it. Since the early 2000s, he has been picking the most sensational of south Indian movies, dubbing them in Hindi for the television audience across north India. The first Telugu movie he dubbed in Hindi was Mass.
The 2004 movie starring Nagarjuna in the lead role was the directorial debut of Raghava Lawrence. Manish dubbed it in Hindi under the title Meri Jung: One Man Army. The dubbed movies hooked the audience and have found a cult following over the years. Things have come to the point that now dubbed movies are posing a challenge to mainstream Hindi releases, with Pushpa the Rise being the case in point.
“Content has no language. If you have the right content that people can enjoy, the audience doesn’t worry about who are the heroes or heroines. This is the lesson I learned from the television serials, which normally have unknown faces. And still, they all work. Movies that have good action, family sentiments and comedy and stories, will always click with the audience,” Manish told indianexpress.com.
He noted that the first dubbed south film that did very well on television was Sarrainodu.
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According to the last year’s BARC report, the TRP ratings generated by Sarrainodu, which first came out in Telugu in 2016, remained unbeaten until 2021. It revealed that the viewership for the Allu Arjun movie was bigger than the Baahubali: The Conclusion on satellite.
“His movie has broken all records on YouTube. 400 plus million views for DJ, 350 plus million views for Sarrainodu, more than 200 million views for Son of Satyamurthy, over 100 million views for Race Gurram, Julayi. The list is endless,” Manish had noted at a press conference before the release of Pushpa: The Rise last December.
Manish’s investments in south Indian movies paid off when he gave a major theatrical launch to Allu Arjun’s Pushpa: The Rise in north India. The Hindi version was released on 1600 screens on December 24 last year. The screen count dipped in the second week to 1400 owing to the cricket drama 83. When major releases across the languages backed off due to the onset of the third wave, the screen count for Pushpa went up again. Pushpa, even after the seventh week, is still available on around 1000 screens in Hindi, despite its release on Amazon Prime Video in January.
“We expected the movie to be a big hit; we know Allu Arjun is a big star. So when the film found its audience, we were not surprised. The way the movie is performing today at the box office despite coming out on the OTT is surprising. No one expected this,” Manish added.
The Hindi version of Pushpa alone has collected Rs 100 crore, which makes it only the fifth south Indian movie to do so after Baahubali 1 and 2, 2.0 and Saaho. After the humongous success of Pushpa, Manish saw a window of opportunity to give a theatrical release to Allu Arjun’s 2020 Telugu blockbuster Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo. “At that point in time (in 2020), I had numerous things at hand. I had no time to plan and release this film. It takes about 3 months of hard work to dub a movie and release it in theatres,” Manish said, answering why he didn’t think of giving Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo a theatrical release along with the original Telugu version.
“A lot of effort goes into it. First, I watch the movie with subtitles and make my notes about it. Later I sit down with the writers and tell them what changes I want in the movie. I tell them the nuances that I want to see in the characters. When the script is ready I read and re-read, give notes to write and make changes. Then the dubbing begins. And once it’s completed I watch it and make changes in editing. Every small thing in the movie is handled by me,” he explained.
Manish’s plans to double down on the success of his distribution business hit a wall when the makers of Shehzada objected to it. Shehzada is the official Hindi remake of Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo. And producer Allu Aravind, father of Allu Arjun and the original producer of the Telugu hit, was also not happy with Manish’s decision.
Manish had publicly claimed that Kartik Aaryan, the lead of Shehzada, had threatened to walk out of the movie if the Hindi dubbed version of Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo was released in cinemas. Amid the mounting pressure from the makers of Shehzada, Manish dropped the theatrical plans for the movie.
“He (Allu Aravind) felt it could affect Shehzada. He was not keen on the film (Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo) coming to theatres. I have immense respect for him as a filmmaker and an individual, so I stopped the release,” Manish told indianexpress.com.
He, however, added that he was not “disappointed” for not bringing out Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo in cinemas as he has other plans for the movie. The Hindi version of the Allu Arjun starrer will premiere on his entertainment channel Dhinchaak TV on February 13. “It (premiere) is going to be humongous,” he claimed.
Manish opined that Bollywood filmmakers could learn one or two lessons from south movies about making movies for mass-market consumption. “Filmmakers should give people what they have not seen before,” he added. “People want the scale of the movie to be big. Before Pushpa, we had Robot. About 15 years ago, the film had collected Rs 20 crore at the box office. And then there was Baahubali 1 and Baahubali 2. KGF did a decent business.”
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