Transcending boundaries: A look at the trend of Bollywood stars debuting in Telugu cinema
Over the next few months, we have several actors from Bollywood gearing up to make it big in the Telugu film industry
Tollywood filmmakers and stars have always been welcoming to actors, especially female ones, from Hindi cinema. The fat pay cheques, market potential, big stakes, foreign schedules, and grandiose sets — these are just some of the perks Telugu cinema has been using to attract established actors from Bollywood. While the ground for this move from Bollywood to the South was laid in the late 80s and early 90s, it has gathered steam after actors like Sonali Bendre, Shilpa Shetty, Anjala Zaveri, Preity Zinta, Aishwarya Rai, Sonal Chauhan, Kiara Advani, Vidya Balan, and Shraddha Kapoor made a mark with their performances. Over the next few months, we have several young actors from Bollywood gearing up to make it big in the Telugu film industry.
Alia Bhatt, who took the Hindi film industry by storm with her impeccable performances in films like Highway, 2 States, Udta Punjab, Dear Zindagi, and Raazi, is making her Telugu debut with director SS Rajamouli's period actioner, RRR. She plays one of the two female leads in the film also starring Jr NTR and Ram Charan. "Alia plays Sita, a central female character who arrives at a crucial juncture in the film. She is paired opposite Ram Charan and her character determines the course of the film," says Rajamouli. The film’s shooting is currently underway in the city and Alia is expected to join the sets soon.
With three National Film Awards to her credit, Kangana Ranaut is the reigning ‘queen’ of Hindi cinema. She is currently doing Thalaivi, a biopic on late actor-politician J Jayalalithaa. Clarifying his reason for signing Kangana, one of the producers of the film, Vishnu Induri says, "Jayalalitha was one of the female political icons of our country. Her image cuts across regional lines and her story will appeal to audiences all over the country. We are making Thalaivi in Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi. To get that pan-Indian appeal, we have signed Kangana, who is hugely popular and is currently the best female actor in our country. It is the best way to tell the story of a stalwart and we believe, Kangana, with her incredible talent and screen presence, will bring value addition to our project."
The first look poster of the film presenting Kangana as Jayalalithaa received mixed reactions, but Vishnu is unperturbed by the feedback. "I have seen the rushes and Kangana is amazing. It’s quite natural for people to draw comparisons, but once the film releases, people will thoroughly enjoy her performance," he adds.
There are reports that Student of the Year 2 actor Ananya Pandey has agreed to make her Telugu debut opposite Vijay Deverakonda in his upcoming martial arts film, which is backed by Karan Johar. "Ananya is a big fan of Vijay and has instantly agreed to be part of the film. She is excited to share screen space with him and is looking forward to the shoot," informs a source.
Yet another Bollywood actor, Richa Chadha is working in director Indrajith Lankesh's upcoming film Shakeela, the eponymous biopic of the popular adult film star. The film, which is being made in Hindi and all the South Indian languages, has been wrapped up and is ready to hit screens in the first half of 2020.
Commenting on the trend, trade analyst K Deepak says, "The Telugu diaspora is spread across the world. So our films, backed by affluent production houses and featuring stars with pan-India appeal, have been getting wider releases in domestic as well as international circuits. In several markets, our movies are faring better than Hindi films. Hence, it’s no surprise that Bollywood heroines are showing interest in Telugu. Also, importing these stars from Hindi will give a fresh perspective to our films."
He also agrees that the increase in use of social media by the actors is also helping them to gain popularity outside their home industry. "Social media has reduced the gap between industries and these stars compliment each other for their works. Recently, Janhvi Kapoor has sung praises of Vijay Deverakonda and called him an extremely talented actor on Koffee with Karan talk show. And Alia Bhatt too called him the glamorous actor. Such gestures will bring these actors closer to the regional audience and also fetch them good opportunities in new territories," adds Deepak.
Now that these actors are gearing up to straddle industries, it remains to be seen how they perform in a relatively new territory.