Moneycontrol PRO

Producer Anand Pandit enters south market with Rs 100-crore project, bets on regional

Pandit has based the move on his belief that regional films are more rooted, and have more original content.

February 16, 2023 / 07:50 PM IST
Movie poster of the upcoming film Kabzaa. Image: @KabzaaM

Movie poster of the upcoming film Kabzaa. Image: @KabzaaM

  • bselive
  • nselive
Todays L/H

Veteran producer Anand Pandit, who may not have clicked with the audience with his recent Hindi release Thank God starring Ajay Devgn and Sidharth Malhotra, saw a huge success with Fakt Mahilao Maate which set new box office benchmarks among Gujarati films.

Continuing his bet on regional, Pandit has now stepped into the south film industry with his new project titled Kabzaa starring Kichcha Sudeepa, and Shriya Saran.

"I always think that regional films are more rooted and have more original content. Currently, my company (Anand Pandit Motion Pictures) is focusing on a lot of regional content. We have many Marathi and Gujarati films. Then we thought entering the south market would be good because they are thorough professionals. That is what my experience has been. We made Kabzaa in Kannada and it will also be released in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. The budget is Rs 90 to 100 crore," Pandit told Moneycontrol.

Like Pandit, producers who primarily have worked on Hindi films are focusing on regional content. Boney Kapoor, known for classics like Mr India, last year invested in three Tamil language movies, including Valimai, Nenjuku Needhi, Veetla Vishesham, and this year in Ajith Kumar-starrer Thunivu. Saregama's film studio Yoodlee Films has forayed into Punjabi, Marathi and Malayalam language films.

Along with being more systematic, like Pandit said, awareness for south film industry is at an all-time high, especially Kannada films, say producers.

Kannada language film Kantara did exceedingly well in Q3 FY23 (October to December 2022), multiplex operator PVR's Joint Managing Director, Sanjeev Kumar, had told Moneycontrol in an earlier interview.

PVR also highlighted that regional films outperformed with a 30 percent increase in box office collections last year at Rs 5,830 crore from Rs 4,489 crore in 2019. The number of regional film releases also increased by 17 percent to 1,149 last year, from 979 in 2019.

And now more film studios and producers are looking at releasing south Indian language films.

"We are looking at more projects in south languages. We will make one or two announcements after Kabzaa. South is doing extremely well in Hindi belts. While there are five to six projects that we are in talks for, we will finalise one or two projects which will go on the floors this year," said Pandit.

The next phase of growth in content consumption for both, theatre and streaming, is regional, according to Siddharth Anand Kumar, Vice-President of Films and Television, Saregama India.

In the theatre segment, while the Indian film industry lost over two crore theatre-going audience, Kannada films saw growth.

Movie-goers for Kannada language films grew the most at 25 percent, from 1.16 crore pre-pandemic to 1.45 crore currently, thanks to successful ventures like Kantara and KGF 2, said a report by media consulting firm Ormax.

"The share of south films in India box office will continue to increase because acceptance of south films has increased. Also, faces are getting known. Plus, they have got sequels as their strength," said Pandit.

While the share of Hindi films in India box office came down from 44 percent in 2019 to 33 percent last year, regional languages, especially south, grew. The share of Telugu films grew from 13 percent in 2019 to 20 percent in 2022, Tamil increased from 13 percent to 16 percent, and Kannada from 5 percent to 8 percent. Marathi films also saw their share increasing from 1 percent in 2019 to 3 percent last year.

Pandit is also focusing more on regional with four to five Marathi films and three Gujarati movies, along with three to four Hindi films in the pipeline.

He is also focusing on sequels. "We are planning for Sarkar 4, and we will be remaking Omkara. We are also in talks with other producers for sequels. Sequels become brand. So, it is easy for people to expect what content they will get."

The producer said that the film industry is rethinking the movie-making strategy, seeing the erratic behavior of the theatre-going audience. "All production houses have understood that it is important to go back to the drawing board and fine-tune the projects. While Shah Rukh Khan's Pathaan, Drishyam 2, and Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 have proved that people are ready to come and spend money in theatres, the audience has also become cautious about what content they spend on."

While theatre revenues are the biggest contributors to a film's overall business, many small and medium film makers are recovering cost by making over-the-top (OTT) platform deals, especially with streaming platforms eyeing regional content. This is also because post-COVID the theatre market of smaller films has been wiped out, said exhibitors.

However, Pandit said that he will only be focusing on theatre revenue and is changing strategy. "Our strategy is to focus more on box office. In the 80s-90s, people only thought of box office, other derivatives were not available. But that has changed with the onset of OTT platforms. Box office is getting neglected. It is time to go back to box office because if a movie is successful at the box office, then it will get a good amount from other revenue streams as well," he said.

Maryam Farooqui
first published: Feb 16, 2023 07:50 pm