It is said there is a time for everything and we do say this since the recent phase is witnessing an upsurge of Bollywood celebrities chancing upon Regional films as Producers. Regional movies either commercial or art house hold not just great potential, they invite a relaxed pocket pinch and render surplus returns and if this was not good enough, an association with the celebrity maximizes publicity for the regional films and even for the stars who strive to supplement their fan base, so it’s a win-win situation for the actor turned producers.
With a host of established actors starting Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh to John Abraham, all have showed keen interest in the Regional films productions. While Amitabh Bachchan’s production company AB Corp’s latest Gujarati release Saptapadii already did great business, Akshay Kumar on the other hand has already announced his second Marathi film Adhantari, to be produced by his venture company Grazing Goats Pictures. The biggies are willing to invest in Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi and Malayalam films which offers an expansive audience base and flourishing takings.
These regional films experiment with distinctive subject matter and quite often secure rave reviews. Bachchan’s production house is laden with numerous projects and regional films scores a high on their list. Be it Saptapadii, which deals with a couple whose life is altered with the arrival of an orphan, a survivor of terrorist attack or the Marathi film, Vihir, which narrates the story of the comradeship of two cousins and their unconventional outlook on life and family bonding, the films are gratifying expectations. Directed by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni, Vihir also a Bachchan production was internationally acclaimed in the Berlin International Film festival (2011) and screened at the 2010 Rotterdam International Film festival. Saptapadii has also garnered its share of accolades since its release receiving the “Special Mention for the Green Rose at the Jaipur Film Festival”.
Not just critically, these regional films are successfully making their mark at the box office. The Bachchan Sr. basking in the film’s success appealed people to watch Saptapadii and appreciate the regional cinema in his social network site. He wrote, “Everyone who has seen the film has enjoyed it much…Go and see it…!! It will give huge boost for the Gujarati film industry.”
Amitabh further commented on his company’s agenda, “AB Corp has been actively involved in producing and promoting regional cinema. Our film Vihir in Marathi won several awards of recognition across the globe at various festivals.”
AB Corp, which has produced the critically acclaimed Paa, earlier had also a fair share in the Bengali art film, Antarmahal: Views of the Inner Chambers (2005). The Rituparno Ghosh directed film starred Abhishek Bachchan, Soha Ali Khan and Roopa Ganguly.
The Khiladi aka Akshay Kumar too has embarked on the production of Regional films, with his debut Marathi film, 72 Miles: Ek Pravas, slated for release very soon. He teamed up with Ashwini Yardii for ‘Grazing Goats Pictures’. Very recently, the house announced its second Marathi venture Adhantari. The film will see the pairing up of Tanisha Mukherjee (Kajol’s sister) and television actor Sumeet Raghavan. “We are very excited about our second Marathi film after 72 Miles-Ek Pravas. We will shoot it on a huge scale, it only shows how Marathi films are getting bigger,” said Yardi. When asked of the recent upsurge in regional film production Yardi agreed saying, “Regional cinema is really growing. We have already made a Marathi film and it’s in the post-production stage.”
“We are looking at the Punjabi market as well because Akshay is essentially from Punjab. Since I am from a Maharashtrian background, I think I know that market well. We are also looking to try Bengali films as well,” Yardi added.
Even industry’s funnyman Riteish Deshmukh turned producer with the modest budget Marathi film, Balak Palak. The Ravi Jadhav film, which has a funny take on sex education in schools made for a runaway hit, earning great moolahs since its release. With this film, Riteish aimed to pave way for Marathi films on a national level viewed Genelia D’Souza, his wife and an actress. On a previous occasion she had said, “I wish Marathi cinema grows and that’s one of the reasons why Riteish is doing a Marathi film next year and we hope to see a lot more Marathi films next year.” The success of Balak Palak and positive reviews it fetched has made producers rethink of a similar Hindi remake.
John Abraham whose bold maiden production Vicky Donor struck a chord with the masses and settled as the greatest hit of the year, too has been enticed with the idea of making regional film. John has said, “I am producing a Marathi film. Definitely, I would love to produce a Malayalam film.” His production house is entitled as John Abraham Entertainment Limited.
The fresh trend of Bollywood stars donning producers’ hat catering to regional movies showcases their ingenuity and an updated investment scheme for the business minded celebs. Given the celeb’s partaking, it would not only rekindle the stakes of regional film industries but in all possibility augment the quality of the films made regionally.