Shah Rukh Khan’s Jawan is being celebrated as one of the biggest films this year. The movie has even opened with excellent box office numbers, earning Rs 129.6 crore worldwide.
While Jawan stars Shah Rukh, it is not a typical Bollywood film. The movie is infused with the quintessential South Indian masala with Atlee’s direction, Nayanthara as the leading lady and Vijay Sethupathi playing the menacing villain. The north and south marriage that is Jawan has now successfully opened doors for Bollywood in the South, just like SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali opened doors for the South Indian film industry in the Hindi-speaking belt.
Thank u so much. Everyone is so thrilled you liked it. Big love to you and family. Very encouraging to hear your kind words. Will keep working harder now to entertain. Love you my friend. https://t.co/won5gxilR7
— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) September 8, 2023
Shah Rukh Khan’s Jawan is not only receiving positive reviews down South; many South Indian stars have also hailed SRK for the film that talks to audiences across borders. About the wave that Jawan has created in South India, trade analyst Ramesh Bala says, “The main reason why Jawan, the film’s Tamil and Telugu versions, are performing well is because of its southern cast and crew. Atlee is the director, Anirudh is the music director, Vijay Sethupathi is the villain, and Nayanthara is the heroine. They are all from South Indian film industries. Jawan has 75% south representation. Except for Shah Rukh Khan, most of the key supporting roles are done by South Indian actors.”
Bala further explains how if there is a fair collaboration between Bollywood and South Indian film industries, it’ll further prove to be a winning formula. He says, “Along with the Hindi (speaking) audience, the Tamil and the Telugu audience was anticipating the film (Jawan) because it is Atlee’s film. Atlee has worked with Vijay before, so that has worked in favour of Jawan. If the same movie was done by Siddharth Anand, like War or Pathaan, it would not have attracted this much audience in the South. This is an exceptional phenomenon because they capitalised on South talent. No other Bollywood film has this much South connection in South India.”
While many South Indian films like Baahubali 1 and 2, RRR, KGF 1 and 2, and Kantara have done exceptionally well in the Hindi belt, very few Hindi films have managed to penetrate South Indian markets. SRK has successfully broken the barrier and paved the path for future collaborations between Bollywood and South Indian film industries. Producer and film business expert Girish Johar calls the superstar’s move a “smart strategy” and says, “The thought with which SRK comes with is that he has already conquered the Hindi belt, he has already conquered the overseas market, so this is one market that he needs to conquer because what has happened is lately we’ve seen South Indian films doing Rs 100 crore+ in Hindi language. So his endeavour is to reach the maximum audience in southern languages, and that is why he has collaborated with big names in the South Indian film industry.”
Johar says Jawan’s success in the South will help his next, the Rajkumar Hirani directorial Dunki to perform better in South Indian states. “South is one particular market in which he wants to go deeper into because it is a film fanatic market. With Pathaan, he took over the world; with Jawan, he is taking over the South, and then he has Dunki, which is urban, so he’ll be concentrating on the overseas market. Jawan penetrating the southern market will also help Dunki. So, it is a well-planned and smart strategy.”
The audience, on the day of Jawan’s release, offered a paal abhishekham (milk bath) to large cut-outs of SRK in several places in Chennai. It’s not common for Tamil cinegoers to put Bollywood stars on the pedestal which is reserved for stars like Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Ajith and Vijay, but SRK is now enjoying this newfound acceptance in South Indian states.
So what does Jawan’s penetration in the South Indian market mean to the South Indian film industry? Ramesh Bala explains that it only creates a healthy competitive atmosphere. He says, “So far, South was not hit by Bollywood movies. It was always the Hindi-speaking audience who watched these films in Hyderabad, Banglore, the metropolitan cities in the South. The South Indian audience hardly watched Bollywood films except for movies like Dangal, Krrish. Few movies have done well. Even the Dhoom franchise did well. But Hindi films were not able to penetrate in the South, but Jawan has cracked it in Tamil Nadu and Telugu speaking states. It is doing well everywhere.”
Bala further says that Jawan being well received by the South Indian audience brings “Hollywood, Bollywood and South all on even terms”.
“If you see, Hollywood movies dubbed in Indian languages have always done well in India, especially in the South. So now South has new competition. Basically, now Hollywood, Bollywood and South are all on even terms. The product has to be right, and it will have takers. It has to be a well-packaged film with action and emotions. Jawan is just that. You cannot make a niche film and expect people in semi-urban areas, small towns and villages to watch it. A movie like Jawan is high on action and masala, so it does well. The same way KGF films did well in the Hindi-speaking belt,” he shared.
“No industry is safe from competition. You have to make the right movies with good entertainment quotient because the audience has become very choosy. So every industry has to scale up and deliver big products. Now movies are again attracting a lot of audience, so they have to scale up in terms of budget and stars and that’s why even (Rajinikanth’s) Jailer is a big movie here and we had Vikram and Indian 2 is also coming. After Baahubali movies, every industry is scaling up, probably the Malayalam film industry will also join. It is a small industry, but other industries have started to scale up,” he adds.
Johar, on the other hand, explains how SRK’s Jawan performing well in South will impact Bollywood. When asked how will things change in Bollywood now and will more filmmakers ape SRK’s move, he says, “It changes nothing in Bollywood. It just further strengthens his hold. It is like an emperor conquering new markets. It is not that he hasn’t been there. His earlier films have done well. Pathaan too had done so well, but with Jawan, he is trying to grow in this specific market. That is the reason he is targeting that. It is a very sharp business strategy. It is a very intelligent business strategy, a very smart move, with which SRK is just trying to be ahead of the curve and prove his dominance and relevance in today’s time.”
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