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In the cine world, remake or dubbing is nothing new. Tamil cinema has been seeing such a trend even before the days of producers SS Vasan, AVM, Nagi Reddy and L V Prasad. The trend of pan-India films is now catching up in the country in which movies are made in multiple languages and released at once.

Tollywood director S S Rajamouli turned a new leaf with his movie ‘Naan Ee’ (Eega in Telugu) which set the trend. Rajamouli’s Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion were true pan-India releases becoming highest grossing films in Indian cinema. Rajamouli’s RRR, a fiction woven at the backdrop of freedom struggle, another Pan India release, is set to hit the big screen in January. Kannada movie KGF: 2  and Maniratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan are also expecting grand releases in 2022.

Priyadarshan’s Marakkar: Arabikadalinde Simham was released in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi to good reception. The pan-India releases are going to be the new normal in Indian cinema for a while.

A pan-India release is, in fact, a dream for production houses. Unity in Diversity could be a tagline for India. But it is not easy to make a movie appealing to everyone in the country especially where differences vary from languages, culture, landscape, caste, creed to religion. For a movie to succeed amidst these many differences, it should truly touch common themes such as human values, common problems or basic sentiments applicable to all.

Kalidas in Tamil cinema was a milestone when silent pictures gained sound. Intriguingly, the heroine talked in Tamil while the hero talked in Telugu in that movie. The trend of making Tamil and Telugu movies simultaneously followed. Producers and directors of Tamil cinema adopted dubbing and remaking with the same enthusiasm when these technologies arrived.

The pan-India releases are going to be the new normal in Indian cinema for a while.

S S Vasan’s Gemini studio produced Chandralekha in 1948. It was a blockbuster across the country since the movie had the perfect mixture of all entertainment features. Famous production houses of Tamil Nadu produced Tamil and Telugu movies first and remade them in Hindi till 1965. The trend got reversed later. Bollywood movies started ruling the roost from the 70s. When Amithabh Bachchan turned a superstar in the 80s, south Indian producers and directors were busy remaking his hits into their languages.

During the 90s, Telugu directors like Koti Ramakrishna, Raghavendra Rao and Rama Rao were dubbing Telugu movies into Tamil and Hindi. Telugu actors like Chiranjeevi, Suman, Venkatesh and Nagarjuna had significant fan following in Tamil Nadu as well. Bollywood started noticing the gifted technicians of south Indian cinema when Shankar’s Kadhalan and Maniratnam’s Roja were dubbed in Hindi.

Making a pan-India cinema is not easy. There is no guarantee that the story line, choice of actors and cultural elements would connect Pan-India viewers.

Maniratnam came under much criticism because he has been attempting to make movies appealing to a pan-India audience. His Ravanan and Ayutha Ezhuthu missed the bus as he concentrated on producing these movies for Tamil and Hindi audiences. Abhishek Bachchan trying Tirunelveli Tamil slang in Guru became troll material. The story line and landscape were not connecting with the audience.

To achieve this connection, a director has to create a fictitious background like those cow-boy movies released in almost all Indian languages during the 1970s. Despite all these challenges, the term pan-India release is gaining popularity just because of box-office collection.

A pan-India victory comes with its advantage. Such successes give a lot of recognition. Tamil directors and technicians’ salary as well as their market witnessed manifold rise after successful pan-India releases like Kadhalan, Indian and Jeans. Prabhas and Yash gained a VIP status in Indian cinema after Baahubali and KGF. Once Ponniyin Selvan releases, Karthi and Jayam Ravi may also enjoy such privilege.

The OTT technology enabled viewers to watch their favourite movies in the languages they prefer. Not just movies, even series released in other languages are also gaining significant popularity.

Even before the technology emerged, Titanic did magic among Indian viewership. Though it was dubbed in many regional languages, the English movie itself was appealing. It created a loyal viewership for English movies in India. Besides the technical nuances, what touched audiences was the love story. Adventure theme-based movies like Avengers and Matrix followed suit.

Making a pan-India cinema is not easy. There is no guarantee that the story line, choice of actors and cultural elements would connect Pan-India viewers. 

However, the time has not come for the West to consume our movies. With pan-India movies a trending topic now, many Tamil films like Vijay’s Beast, Ajith’s Valimai could try to be pan-India. It gives a satisfaction that our cultural likes are appreciated in far off places.

But the pan-India concept should not evolve into something like ‘one country, one cinema’. That will be a regressive phenomenon.

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