The southerners are arriving in Bollywood. Be it Asin Thottumkal, Rana Daggubati, Kajal Aggarwal or Sundeep Kishan, many of India’s young southern film stars are giving in to the lure of the “glamorous” Hindi film industry. Though they are yet to rise to the stature of Sreedevi and Jaya Prada, many actors from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala are beginning to take up Bollywood projects.
Daggubati, who entered Hindi films this year with Rohan Sippy’s Dum Maaro Dum, feels Bollywood could give him a chance to experiment with his talent. “I knew I could never get an opportunity to do this kind of role due to regional boundaries. The role and the script were a bigger excitement for me to grow as an actor,” Daggubati, grandson of veteran Telugu film actor-producer D. Ramanaidu and the son of producer D. Suresh Babu says.
With Shor In The City, Sundeep Kishan forayed into Hindi cinema from the Tamil-Telugu industry. He grew up in Chennai. “The southern industry is healthy, but the craze that the Bollywood world has created is unbeatable. Who does not want to be part of it? Moreover, I feel Bollywood has set international standards in the recent past and from outside it looks like a ‘glamorous’ world,” Kishan says.
“Experimentation with roles is what one looks forward to and I see that in the Hindi film industry. The satisfaction and the career prospects – all soar high after one makes a mark here,” he added.
As far as southern luminaries like Mammootty, Mohanlal and Kamal Haasan are concerned, they have done select films in Hindi and made their presence felt, but never really made a base in Mumbai.
But in the recent past, Bollywood has welcomed a slew of actors from the south, including Kamal Haasan’s daughter Shruti in Luck, Trisha Krishnan in the Akshay Kumar-starrer Khatta Meetha and Charmy Kaur in the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap.
There are others who are awaiting the release of their projects.
Ileana D’cruz will be seen in Anurag Basu’s Barfee and Kannada-born actress Lakshmi Rai will feature in Satish Kaushik’s Tere Bina Jiya Nahin Jaye.
There is a lot of buzz around Kajal Aggarwal’s full-fledged Hindi debut opposite Ajay Devgn in Singham, releasing Friday. Kajal, who did a cameo role in the 2004 Hindi film Kyun…! Ho Gaya Na, feels regional barriers are disappearing in filmdom.
“The reach of Hindi cinema is larger, but the south is equally professional. In the south, they have very talented technicians like in Bollywood. Both industries have equally good artists, good scripts and good professionals,” said the actress, who has featured in 21 southern movies in four years. Regional barriers are slowly and steadily disappearing which is a very good thing,” she added.
Madhavan, who entered Bollywood in 2001 with Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein and has risen in popularity thanks to films like Rang De Basanti, 3 Idiots, and Tanu Weds Manu, points out that it is important for actors to speak a language correctly to make it big anywhere – be it Bollywood or Hollywood.
“Fortunately, I do have a market in both these worlds. Very few actors have that…maybe Kamal Haasan too! Having said that, I don’t think that an actor can be limited by his ability to act. If there is any limitation, it will be by the way he speaks a certain language,” he said. Being a Madrasi, if I am not able to pull off a Tanu Weds Manu, and my so-called Punjabi accent sounds like a Madrasi accent, there will be very less appreciation. Similarly, if I go to Tamil Nadu and be a guy from Madurai…and speak like I am a Hindi guy, that’s not going to work,” he added.