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'Kantara' to 'Sita Ramam', the success of these 4 South films have lessons for film industry

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Bengaluru, Oct 08: It is raining dark horses in the South Indian film industry with not one or two but four movies with little or no expectations making it to the top. Yes, South Indian film industry has witnessed four unexpected hits in the last three months in the form of Nikhil Siddhartha's 'Karthikeya 2', Dulqueer Salmaan's 'Sita Ramam', Nandamuri Kalyan Ram's 'Bimbisara' and now Rishab Shetty's 'Kantara'.

Kantara to Sita Ramam, the success of these 4 South films have lessons for film industry

These four movies have emerged victorious when many big stars including Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar have struggled to deliver a convincing hit at the box office. Interestingly, none of the said films had A-list actors, yet managed to pull the audience to theatres and win the hearts of the cine-goers.

Bimbisara is a fantasy action film written and directed by debutant Mallidi Vassishta, and produced by NTR Arts. It stars Nandamuri Kalyan Ram, Catherine Tresa, Samyuktha Menon and Prakash Raj. In the film, King Bimbisara of the Trigartala Empire from the 5th century BCE lands in the modern-day world through time travel.

The Telugu fantasy action surprised the cine-goers with its grandeur and power-packed performances backed by solid background score and fantastic visuals. Kalyan Ram as Bimbisara was hailed for his acting. In fact, critics declared that this was his best performance till date.

The movie turned out to be a blockbuster by minting Rs 63.9 crore.

'Karthikeya 2'
Telugu film Karthikeya 2 is a mystery action-adventure film, written and directed by Chandoo Mondeti. The film served as a sequel to the 2014 film 'Karthikeya' and stars Nikhil Siddhartha, Anupama Parameswaran, and Anupam Kher. The plot follows Dr Karthikeya who is on a quest to find the lost anklet of Lord Krishna.

The fans were impressed with Indiana Jones or a James Bond-like movie with Indian sensibilities. The gripping, pacey, thrilling story that revolves around religion, faith & science & technology. The cine-goers enjoyed the treatment and hailed the performance of the actors and the content.

This was much bigger hit than 'Bimbisara' as the movie grossed Rs 102 crore at the worldwide box office. In Andhra and Telangana alone, it raked in Rs 51.7 crore.

'Sita Ramam'
Sita Ramam is a period romantic drama film co-written and directed by Hanu Raghavapudi. The film stars Dulquer Salmaan and Mrunal Thakur playing prominent roles, and Rashmika Mandanna and Sumanth are in the supporting roles. Set in 1964, Lieutenant Ram, an orphan Indian army officer serving at the Kashmir border, gets anonymous love letters from Sita Mahalakshmi. Ram is on a mission to find Sita and propose his love.

This too remains one of the biggest surprise hits in Tollywood in recent years. The movie starred a non-Telugu actor, yet the power of word of mouth feedback played the trick for this one. The actors breathed life into their characters and they were well-aided by a good storyline backed by eye-pleasing visuals. Special mention for Vishal Chandrashekhar's music.

The movie was also declared a blockbuster as it earned Rs 59 crore. The popularity of the film increased after its OTT release.

Rishab Shetty's Kannada film 'Kantara', which was released last week, has struck gold at the box office. The film clashed with the biggies like Mani Ratnam's 'Ponniyin Selvan', Hrithik Roshan's 'Vikram Vedha' and Chiranjeevi's Godfather', but gained more popularity and success than those films.

The movie, which is made with a moderate budget, has grossed over Rs 30 crore at the box office. The Kannada flick has impressed the viewers with its gripping content backed by the extraordinary acting of Risha Shetty. The narration backed by the cultural setting with a message was lauded by critics.

What Worked in Favour of The Films?
It is difficult to predict the success of films, but looking at the pattern, one gets clear idea that the audiences have started preferring content over stardom. "Gone are the days when an A-list actor could proudly say that he would deliver a hit with his star power alone. Be it in South or Bollywood, it is becoming increasingly difficult for filmmakers to impress the cine goers with average content. Surely, the trend indicates that people want fresh content and something different. Routine doesn't work anymore," trade tracker Trinath tells.

Trade trackers say that word-of-mouth can do wonders for the film. "Look at how 'Sita Ramam' turned out to be a hit. Nobody anticipated it. Nobody expected some non-Telugu actor to deliver such a hit. That's because of positive reviews that spread like wildfire due to social media. Even it was embraced by non-Telugu audience," Bhavana, who tracks Telugu films, opines.

Coming to the business part, the distributors understanding and planning help a film to increase its profits. "For instance, 'Kantara' was released in limited screens by the makers. Instead of releasing in 50 single screens across the city and paying huge rents, they released in lesser single screens. As the word-of-mouth was good, there was a huge demand for tickets and they reaped the same profit from limited screens," critic Shyam Prasad points out.
The success of the four movies have lessons for filmmakers, say industry insiders.

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