Economics of Hindi ‘Languaged’ Movies

KGF Chapter 2 is a Kannada movie dubbed in Hindi and all south Indian languages. Speaking about the success of this movie, another Kannada actor unconnected with this movie, said – Hindi is “no longer” a national language. This is ignorant talk, coming from someone associated with the movie industry. They should know better.

The debate then got erroneously enmeshed in the constitutional status of Hindi. The debate should be – what happens if any regional language movies are dubbed in Hindi?

Movies are a function of revenue. And revenue is a function of distribution – the larger the spread the more the collection. The data on the movie has been extracted from (here)

KGF 2 was released on 14th April 2022, Thursday, in Kannada (ka), Hindi (Hi), Malayalam (Mal), Tamil (Ta) and Telugu (Te).

The chart below shows the percentage of daily earnings for one week – Hindi vis-à-vis Kannada. Out of the total money earned, Hindi earns 50% of the revenue daily.

% earnings in Hindi vis-à-vis Kannada

The chart below shows – Percentage of daily earnings from the Rest of India and Kannada. Also, after three days, collections from the south show precipitous drop.

Rest of India does not mean only Hindi, still one can consider “Hindi followers” as major.

“Hindi followers” means – people whose mother tongue is not Hindi, yet given two theatres, one running Hindi and another running “south language” movie, they will choose Hindi. For example, Bengali and Marathi speakers may choose Hindi.

One can equally extrapolate these earnings to overseas markets also. “Hindi followers” dominate the Indian Diaspora. So, if the movie is purported to earn over Rs. 1000 crores worldwide, one can estimate the earnings to be from Hindi dubbing.

KGF 2 took Rs. 100 crores to make. No movie financier will budget this amount on a regional language movie with no prospect of it being released in Hindi also.

A dubbing controversy happened in 2016, with the movie -Dhoni. Some “sena” objected to the movie’s dubbing in Hindi, fearing that this could become a trend and might affect the Marathi movie economy. (here)

With the sort of provocations coming from the south movie industry and deliberate denigration of Hindi, the day is not far when some “sena” will arise in the north and stop the south dubbing in Hindi.

Better sense should prevail and money should be put where it’s due. Hindi might not be our National Language but it’s a language of money, Indian movie-wise, whether acknowledged or unacknowledged.

The travesty is; that south actors who speak with one eye on regional politics and make fractious statements, will one day might become Chief Minister of that State.