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Tollywood hit by a Malayalam wave

A host of new actors and remakes of Malayalam films are set to make a splash in Tollywood. Hyderabad Times turns the spotlight on this trend... 

Earlier this year, when Prakash Raj remade Aashiq Abu's acclaimed 2011 Malayalam film Salt N' Pepper in Telugu as Ulavacharu Biryani, no one anticipated that a deluge of new wave of Malayalam films will hit Tollywood. Although the response in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to the film wasn't quite encouraging; the success of Venkatesh, Meena starrer Drishyam has turned the spotlight back on Malayalam films. 

Everybody's watching malayalam films 

The original version of Drishyam, directed by Jeethu Joseph, impressed Venkatesh so much that he agreed to act in the remake. "I was hooked by the screenplay. The emotion is real and the film had universal appeal. And I was bowled over by the way Jeethu Joseph moulded the story," Venkatesh said. And he's not alone. Sources close to NTR say that he has been following Malayalam films a lot and is even sourcing DVDs from acquaintances in Kochi. Not just actors, production houses have begun focusing on content-driven Malayalam films. "Earlier, producers and actors were more interested in Tamil films, but these days, they are watching almost all the Malayalam films which are creating a buzz," says a source close to a production house. 

It's raining remakes 

Earlier also, Malayalam films were remade or dubbed in Telugu, but this renewed interest is a by-product of a new wave of Malayalam cinema, which has churned out critically acclaimed films like Drishyam, Bangalore Days, How Old Are You and North 24 Kaatham to name a few. In fact, Dulquer Salmaan, Nazriya Nazim and Nivin Pauly starrer Bangalore Days ran for more than two months in Hyderabad. And it is going to be remade in Telugu and Tamil with Bommarillu Bhaskar tipped to helm the effort. Over the next few months, Tollywood will also see remakes of Thattathin Marayathu and Neram testing their luck at the box-office. "There has been a dearth of good content in Telugu for the past few years. So, there is interest in films in other languages with good content which makes it a lot easier to get a good hero and director onboard," producer KL Damodar Prasad says. 

The lure of big money 

Part of the appeal is that Telugu film industry spells big money and opportunity for actors and filmmakers in Kerala. Actress Rima Kallingal sums it up saying, "Telugu film industry is perceived as cash rich industry and I guess half the actresses in Malayalam would love to act in Telugu at some point (laughs). Ever since Dileep was roped in to act in Kodi Ramakrishna's film on Sathya Sai Baba, there is a discussion about what's happening in Telugu cinema." 

Influx of new talent 

It's not just films, but even Malayali actresses have been making inroads in Telugu film industry. After the likes of Nithya Menen, Amala Paul and Poorna, a bunch of new actresses such as Isha Talwar, Keerthy Suresh, Samskruthy Shenoy, Niveda Thomas and Anjana Menon have joined the long list of new imports. "People on the sets are extremely helpful. When I made my debut in Telugu, I couldn't speak a word of Telugu, but the director made sure that I got all the help I needed to learn my lines," says Samskruthy Shenoy, who acted in Hrudayam Ekkadunnadi. 

More than anything else, given the number of films being made in Telugu, there's always a demand for new talent. And many actresses are impressed with how quickly the industry embraces new talent. Popular Malayalam actress Isha Talwar reveals, "I got lucky in Malayalam when my debut Thattathin Marayathu turned out to be a big hit and it's because of that film that I got a chance to act in Gunde Jaari Gallanthayindhe. It's amazing how well Telugu film industry embraces new talent and if you can impress everyone with your first film then sky is the limit in Telugu." Well, it couldn't be more true!

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