MIXING IT UP
Many consider Dulquer Salmaan, who set foot in Bollywood this year with the road movie "Karwaan", to be the best export from the southern filmdom. If the young Malayalam actor's fan base grew bigger and stronger after his Hindi film debut, Bollywood's Khiladi, Akshay Kumar, also didn't leave the audience disappointed with his villainous role in "2.0". It marked his Tamil debut.
"2.0", which also stars Rajinikanth, released on November 29. The sci-fi film, made on a budget of Rs 600 crore, grossed Rs 400 crore at the box office worldwide in its opening weekend.
On the other hand, Dulquer, the son of Malayalam megastar Mammootty, chose a film that was made on a much smaller budget. Still, the Akarsh Khurana directorial earned a spot in the top 10 Indian movies of 2018, determined by global movie website IMDb customer ratings. Earlier this year, Dulquer also made his debut in Telugu with "Mahanati", based on the life of actress Savitri.
In an interview, the "Kali" star, who is one of the rare actors to debut four times, had said: "I am not saying that I am entitled to a big debut in Malayalam film or any language."
But he asserted that his "primary focus will be Malayalam films" and that he will choose from "what comes my way and take a call irrespective of the language".
His "O Kadhal Kanmani" co-star Nithya Menen has also bagged her first Bollywood film – "Mission Mangal".
"In the past also, I was offered plenty of Hindi films. I just wanted to be as choosy with Hindi as I was with films in other languages that I have done. I wanted it [debut Hindi film] to be a really nice film," Nithya explained.
"I found this a nice character. I don't think we have done a film like this... you know, a space film," added the star, who made her debut as a lead actress with Kannada film "7 O'Clock" over a decade ago. The upcoming film will also star actresses like Taapsee Pannu, Sonakshi Sinha and Vidya Balan.
Vidya will be launched in Telugu film industry with the biopic on legendary actor-politician and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N.T. Rama Rao.
She had said at an event with excitement: "I have never delivered dialogues in another language apart from Hindi. Earlier, I did special appearances for one-two scenes in Malayalam film but in this film, I have a full-fledged role."
For Aishwarya Devan, who has acted in Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada language films, it was her role that pulled her towards the Hindi film "Kaashi in Search of Ganga".
"I haven't done many strong roles in south films, so I am very happy that my debut role in Bollywood is of a strong female character," Aishwarya, who played a journalist in the film, had said.
The year 2018 also saw veteran actress Supriya Pathak making her debut in Telugu filmdom with "Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava", helmed by Trivikram Srinivas.
"I really enjoyed working with the people. It was wonderful. My director was a wonderful person. I hope I get an opportunity to work there again," said the actress, who had starred in the 1985 Malayalam movie "Akalathe Ambili".
"Those days, a lot of Hindi films were made in south India. Then also, it was much more organised than in Mumbai or north India. My idea of south [Indian film industry] was always that it was more organised and that attracts you because it has got discipline. People are professionals and, still, there is a kind of basic emotion surrounding it and very work-oriented," said Supriya, whose mother tongue is Gujarati.
Also, Pankaj Tripathi made his Tamil film debut with Rajinikanth film "Kaala" and Bollywood's dancing diva Madhuri Dixit Nene's maiden Marathi film "Bucket List" released this year.
Neil Nitin Mukesh, who featured in the 2014 Tamil film "Kaththi" by A.R. Murugadoss, made his Telugu debut with "Kavacham" this month. He will also be seen in Prabhas-starrer "Saaho", which will be Shraddha Kapoor's maiden film in Telugu.
While "Saaho" is one of the most anticipated movies of 2019, Malayalam star Nivin Pauly is set to make his presence felt in the Hindi film industry too.
He will be seen in Geetu Mohandas' bilingual film "Moothon", which will be released in Hindi and Malayalam.
"The language part is always challenging. For a Malayali actor, I won't be that comfortable to do a film in Tamil, Telugu or Hindi. I believe we should push ourselves by crossing boundaries. I think every actor should attempt that in their career," Nivin had said.
"There is one blessed career that God gave us and we shouldn't be sitting in one place and getting comfortable. There is no harm in trying something new." And the audience isn't complaining.