From Bollywood to Tollywood (via Kollywood, Mollywood & Sandalwood)

By Adam Pollard

Everyone knows Hollywood, some may know Bollywood but how many know the answers to what are Sandalwood, Kollywood, Tollywood and Mollywood? These are the names of the regional film industries in India namely Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam (in that order).

Together with Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and other regional language films, these film industries produce more than 1000 films a year making India the world’s largest producer of films. The graph shows the language wise share of films released in India. The South Indian languages of Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu make up nearly 50% of the share of movies that are released in India. The actual number of regional films produced is much higher than Hindi movies every year but because of the reach of Hindi, the national language, Hindi movies garner more revenues than the regional movies.

A fact that may not be well known is that the South Indian movie industry is a very well established and reputed one with a history that goes back to 1916, when the first silent film (Tamil) was made. While many know of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s term as California’s governor, few know that for the last thirty years or so, iconic Tamil film actors and an actress have been the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu, one of the top states in terms of industry and growth in India.

The resounding success of 2010 for the Indian film industry was the movie “Endhiran” or Robot as it was titled in Hindi. Released simultaneously in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, it was produced by Sun Pictures, a part of the Sun Network, one of the fastest growing and largest business conglomerates in India based in Chennai that owns 20 Television Channels, 45 FM Radio Stations, 2 Daily Newspapers, 4 Weekly Magazines & an Airline and one of the largest DTH Service Providers other than a tremendously successful film distribution and production unit. This is truly remarkable because Sun got into films only in 2008.

“Endhiran” created several records – it was the first production venture for Sun Picture, and yet it broke the record for the largest box office collections for the Indian film industry, collecting over 3.75 billion rupees (£48.5million) to date and it also showed the world what films and regional films inIndia are capable of with respect to technology. The science-fiction film brought in global creative talent with ILM, Tippet, Café EFX, Centro and Menfond being international studios involved in VFX and technical crew members sourced from Hollywood that included Mary E Vogt for robot costumes and Yuen Woo Ping for stunts and animatronics.

India does see movie-going as one of the main sources of entertainment for its masses, evidenced by the fact that it has the largest number of admissions compared to any other country for movies. The Indian film industry is definitely open to joint ventures, for instance last year, BBC Earth, the global natural history brand for BBC Worldwide, and Indian entertainment giant, RELIANCE BIG ENTERTAINMENT, got into a partnership for three motion pictures. Thus the business opportunities for technology, media and entertainment organisations with the Indian film industry include joint ventures, supplying skills and collaboration.


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