Sanjay Dutt in KGF: Chapter 2, Suniel Shetty in Pehelwan: Why South is casting '90s stars as villains

Raja Sekar

Aug 06, 2019 08:07:50 IST

Suddenly, the South Indian film industry has welcomed the ‘90s Bollywood actors with open arms. Actors like Suniel Shetty, Sanjay Dutt, Jackie Shroff, Raveena Tandon, and Mandira Bedi are playing pivotal characters in some of the big South films this year.

 Sanjay Dutt in KGF: Chapter 2, Suniel Shetty in Pehelwan: Why South is casting 90s stars as villains

Sanjay Dutt's first look of Adheera from KGF: Chapter 2

Suniel Shetty plays a pivotal role in Sudeep's Pehlwaan, and Sanjay Dutt is the villain in KGF: Chapter 2. Besides, Abhay Deol plays Sivakarthikeyan's antagonist in Hero.

But why filmmakers and producers from the South keen on roping these actors (mostly as antagonists), and not someone within their industry, which is the usual norm (more feasible in terms of remuneration)? Are these actors considering the South market as a part of their retirement plan? On throwing these questions to industry experts, we got some clarity on this ongoing trend.

“I won’t call the South film industry as a retirement plan for the Bollywood actors because they are not approaching our producers and director for film chances. It’s us who are offering them strong characters mainly because of the North market. These days, the Hindi satellite rights and North dubbing rights for the South films are booming market for our producers. The moment your film have names like Jackie Shroff, Sonu Sood, and Suniel Shetty, the offer is huge so there is nothing wrong in exploring this side of the market," says Dhananjayan, who used to head UTV in the South, and has now become an individual producer through films like Kaatrin Mozhi and Mr.  Chandramouli.

When asked why most of the South producers prefer casting ‘90s Bollywood actors, who are no longer getting offers in Hindi and not the in-demand top league stars from North, Dhananjayan says “Not all South films can afford stars like Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn. Producers are roping in Hindi actors who are affordable to the budget so names like Jackie Shroff and Sonu Sood are often seen in the South these days," adds Dhananjayan.

Karthik from Hombale Films, producers of the KGF franchise, says, "We approached Sanjay Dutt and Raveena Tandon for KGF: Chapter 2 mainly because we needed two aged yet talented actors for our film. As our film got a pan-Indian appeal, casting actors like Sanjay Dutt and Raveena will help us to reach audiences across the five languages. Yes, casting Hindi actors will give the extra push in the Hindi dubbing market but we didn't cast them for business reasons".

Producer K Sathish, who is also a celebrity manager, says “Yes, we are casting Hindi actors mainly to attracts the buyers from the North market. As soon as a South film pooja gets done, the first business area we lock is Hindi dubbing rights, so when our project has names like Abhay Deol, Suniel Shetty, and Jackie Shroff, there will be more buyers quoting fancy rates."

Suniel Shetty in a poster of Pehelwan

Suniel Shetty in a poster of Pehelwan

“Besides the Hindi dubbing market, these names also create a huge hype in the local market. For example, the news on Abhay Deol playing Sivakarthikeyan’s villain in Hero created huge expectations for the film in Tamil cinema. Instead of casting regular villains, these popular ‘90s Bollywood actors also give a fresh colour”, adds Sathish.

Sathish also comes with an interesting creative and business perspective behind the casting choice. “Some of our filmmakers are big fans of these Bollywood actors but our industry can’t afford to pay them during the peak of their career. Now, they are ready to act in South films with a reduced budget. It’s a win-win situation for all the parties”, he says.

A producer, on condition of anonymity, says, “These days, casting a villain is a crucial decision in any film. Some of the yesteryear regional heroes charge higher than these popular ‘90s stars. Also, some of these regional heroes still believe only in playing the protagonist so producers can’t meet the unrealistic demands."

All images from Twitter.

Updated Date: Aug 06, 2019 08:08:31 IST