The City of Pearl, Hyderabad is also the city of glamour and gloss. Apart from IT, pharma and real estate, it is also home to a multi-crore Hyderabad film industry — or Tollywood (not to be confused with Bengal’s film industry). According to South superstar, Chiranjeevi who has worked predominantly in Telugu films, “When the Telugu film industry made the big shift from Chennai to Hyderabad, it meant a lot to the film industry and to the distinct Telugu identity as a whole.” Little did he know then that it was the precursor of an industry that would be truly global one day!
Baahubali Changed the Game
When SS Rajamouli, Prabhas, and Rana came on Koffee with Karan, Season 6, Karan Johar proclaimed it as his proudest cup of coffee for the trio belonged to the grandest and most ambitious venture of the country, Baahubali. Box office records were shattered all around when movie’s collections across the world, all languages combined, touched Rs. 1500 crore and kept rising.
While India’s moviedom has so far been known to the world over through Bollywood, Tollywood’s Baahubali challenged its dominance like never before. The producers, also Hyderabad-based, Arka Media Works, are still reaping the profits of this super successful venture. The international markets showed so much interest that the firm had to get an international sales agent.
At an expense of $40 million Baahubali might be a dwarf to the 2011 Hollywood blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean-On Stranger Tides, but having raked $378.5 million, it has contributed to Hyderabad’s rising status as a multi-crore film industry. As Komal Nahta, a Mumbai-based film trade analyst, asserts, “…at $50 million approx. in the first nine days. (Baahubali) is more than the lifetime earnings of some of India’s biggest Bollywood blockbusters.”
World’s Largest Film City
Ramoji Film City is technically a part of Hyderabad, but in reality with its (real) hotels, workshops, soundstages, gardens, post office, banks, restaurants, airport, railway station it is a metropolis in and of itself. The annual film output in Hyderabad film industry is almost as large as the Hindi film industry and what’s more the return for investors on each feature tends to be better than the latter counterpart.
The film city has permanent film set locations and also retains sets from its blockbuster productions such as Baahubali as tourist attractions. In fact, the film studio itself draws 1.5 million tourists annually. Also, if you so wish, you can even get married here with all the movie dazzle thrown in. Las Vegas isn’t exclusive anymore!
Besides, the owner Ramoji Rao is also looking at a digital future based in the studio involving a news media empire and video app projects that will make Hyderabad not only the film capital but the media capital of the country.
A Global Visual Tech Hub
Hyderabad is the honey to the flies of software developers and programmers thus evolving a steady VFX industry. Homegrown tech start-ups are making Hyderabad the technology hub of the entertainment industry looking towards animation, VFX and other digital technology. The city is at the centre of the visual effects craze with offerings like 2.0 and Thugs of Hindostan, to name some of the latest ones. Even Hollywood movies like Avatar, Life of Pi, The Chronicles of Narnia, Peter Pan and several shows on Nickelodeon had their visual effects done in Hyderabad.
Incubation centres in education institutions like IIIT Hyderabad’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ISB Hyderabad’s Innovation cell, and Telangana’s T-Hub are the perfect cradle for building an eco-system for special effects industry and adding to the rise of the city as the massive, profit-churning film industry.
The Money Maker
Apart from the quality of films and the quality of filmmakers, technicians, etc. the main strength of the Hyderabad film industry is their audience. The people are passionate about movies and this passion is even running up the numbers of Telugu cinema in the overseas market. In the 2017 festive season of Pongal, Sathamanam Bhavati, Khaidi No.150, and Gautamiputra Satakarni earned $653,664 (Rs. 4.45 crore), $2,361,969 (Rs. 16.08 crore) and $1,571,487 (Rs. 10.70 crore), respectively, within two weeks in the US. Back home, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana combined have the highest number of screens in India, making Telugu movies generate more revenue.
According to the FICCI-MPA report, Telugu along with Tamil were the largest segments in 2017 comprising 34% of net box office revenue of which the Hyderabad film industry generated Rs 1, 421 crore that year. According to the FICCI-EY report, the Telugu film industry clocked a 47% growth in 2017 with a total revenue generation of Rs 15.33 billion. In addition to it, with more than 300 movie releases the Telugu segment was the highest movie churner of the year too.
The Hyderabad film industry serves as the livelihood for roughly 14,000 cine workers and this is barring the big ticket directors, producers, actors, etc.
This is an unimaginable feat to mirror for the western cinematic world. The blockbuster Baahubali was filmed in Telugu and Tamil and in addition dubbed in Hindi and Malayalam as well. Hyderabad as an impressive film industry characterizes this distinct feature of producing films in other languages, a cross-cultural approach by no other film industry in the country. This helps to rake in the moolah further amplifying the film industry in the state.
Telugu is the third-most spoken language in the country and an increasing demographic abroad as well with rising Telugu-speaking emigrants which only ensure increasing the distribution of Tollywood’s output.
A One-Stop Movie Factory
All a producer needs in Tollywood is a script. The film’s shooting, editing, mixing, special effects layering can all be done in here and made ready for release. In case the movie needs extras, catering, lights or generators, in short anything and everything that a movie might need is available here. Hyderabad has no end of scenery and props, from temples to horses, etc. everything from real and plastic, to technology, language and other proficiency in its local skills and enterprises.
To Sum It Up…
Over the past years, the Indian metropolis of Hyderabad has been garnering huge attention for its HITECH City – the country’s own purpose-built Silicon Valley. And nearby is the Genome Valley, which boasts manufacturing and R&D arms of some of the biotech sector’s biggest names. Soon, the name of Mumbai and Hyderabad will be taken in the same breath and parlance — all thanks to the fast-growing and beautifully emerging multi-crore Hyderabad film industry.