While there is a lot of hype about upcoming Bollywood sports movies such as "83", "Toofaan" or "Jersey", an entirely different crop of biggies in the genre is being readied down South.The Telugu and Tamil film industries, especially, have been increasingly investing in sports movies that let them explore the entire gamut of emotions and drama that come with the story of an individual, often an underdog, who strives against the odds to emerge a winner and make his nation proud.For South Indian actors and filmmakers exploring the genre, the significance lies beyond box office basics. Given the fact that sports films as a genre draw audience attention easily, these films have become important to regional stars in the context of the pan-India scenario because the advent of OTT now provides a level playing field to all content coming from different parts of India.Down South, there are several sports films lined up right now, with many scheduled to release over the next few months, with OTT, giving them all-India, nay global, access.What's more, films in the genre set to emerge from the Tamil and Telugu factories explore sports beyond the familiar cricket and football ambit. While "Muddy" bases its plot on drag racing, "Lakshya" finds its plot in archery. Films like "Sarpatta" and "Ghani" have boxing as the sport on which the storyline is based.The sports drama, most in the South Indian film trade agree, is a popular and reliable genre in the film market of the region right now, mainly driven by the OTT advantage. Whether these films reach the digital domain directly, or after a big screen release, streaming platforms will help such films strike instant connect with global audiences.Cast and crew of these films are aware of this fact and are naturally excited to complete and release their respective films. Actor Varun Tej informed fans on Saturday about starting the final schedule of his Telugu sports drama "Ghani", which casts him as a boxer.
Actor Naga Shaurya's Telugu film "Lakshya", too, started shooting for the climax of the film in Hyderabad. The film is based on the sport of ancient archery.Indeed, boxing is a flavour of the season across the board. If Tollywood is readying "Ghani" and Bollywood is all set to digitally release "Toofaan", Tamil bigwig director Pa. Ranjith has Arya-starrer drama "Sarpatta Parambarai" lined up. The poster of the film dropped recently, and has garnered some buzz.Chennai-based trade analyst Shreedhar Pillai agrees the sports film as a genre invariably catches audience attention, and would seem like an easy way for regional stars to woo the attention of the public beyond their established fan base."I think the sports genre always has a market everywhere, with its tales of the underdog succeeding against all odds. That's a formula that has always worked with the masses. So, they will use it. In all sports films, the hero or heroines are underdogs till the interval. You have to look at movies other than cricket now because cricket is the most popular sport in India but there are too many movies based in India. You have to make a movie on boxing or racing or other sports," says Pillai.Earlier this year director Praghabal announced the multilingual film "Muddy", touted as India's first film on mud racing. The film will be released in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, as well as in Hindi.Trade analyst Atul Mohan feels that filmmakers from southern industries are currently leading in terms of content and a film on sports drama can find them a larger audience across the country."Sports has always been a safe bet and we know how South filmmakers and actors have raised the bar content wise. They are leading from the forefront. When they are coming up with a genre like sports, we can expect blockbusters. Jersey (now being remade in Hindi with Shahid Kapoor) was a Telugu film. South filmmakers are leading content-wise and they are coming up with great content within any and every genre, which is appealing and which leads to the trend of remaking their hits," he says.Mohan feels the kind of drama South filmmakers add to just about any genre, sports films included, increase the chances of these efforts to be remade."If they are making films in the sports genre, I am sure those films will be remade. Content-wise they are ahead. Bollywood is always inspired by them. We would be eagerly awaiting to see sports films from the South," he sums up.