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Shraddha Kapoor as Saaho's Leading Lady is a Big Step in Narrowing the North-South Divide

Shraddha Kapoor as Saaho's Leading Lady is a Big Step in Narrowing the North-South Divide

Shraddha Kapoor in Saaho leads the way in Bollywood A-listers going down south this year to play pivotal roles with major local stars.

Shraddha Kapoor is making her south debut with Saaho, a film that will be released in Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam, besides Hindi. Being produced by UV Creations, a Hyderabad based company, and T-Series, Saaho is a Bollywood-meets-south film in the truest sense.

Not only does it have Telugu superstar Prabhas opposite Shraddha, the collaboration between the two industries is also taken forward by the rest of the cast. A bunch of actors from B-Town – Neil Nitin Mukesh, Jackie Shroff, Mahesh Manjrekar and Chunky Panday – play important characters in the film.

Collaborations between Bollywood and south stars is not a new phenomenon, but has definitely picked up momentum this year. Many B-Towners, including Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn and Shah Rukh Khan, will be spending time on southern sets very soon.

One of the biggest titles that has roped in major Bollywood stars is SS Rajamouli's RRR, a movie headlined by Ram Charan Teja and NTR Junior. The Telugu-language period action film will also feature Ajay Devgn and Alia Bhatt in pivotal roles.

Read: RRR: Alia, Ajay Join Jr NTR and Ram Charan in Rajamouli's Telugu Period Film

Ask Ajay about his maiden south venture and the actor says, "I took up this films because I really admire Rajamouli. He is fabulous. I have known him for some time. I am doing a cameo in the film and the character, which he has narrated to me, is fabulous."

He adds, "I think things have changed now. There is no more a north-south divide. From a Baahubali to other south films with not so famous stars have worked in the north in recent times."

That gap has narrowed so much that there's hardly any A-lister left in Bollywood who doesn't have a south film in his kitty. Amitabh Bachchan will be making a guest appearance in Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, a Telugu biographical action film starring Chiranjeevi in the lead. There were strong rumours that Shah Rukh Khan would play an antagonist in Vijay's upcoming film Bigil, however, it's not confirmed yet.

Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy: Amitabh Bachchan Shares Photos From Set, Says He's Honoured to Work With Chiranjeevi

Actress Vidya Balan recently made her Tamil debut with Nerkonda Paarvai, the remake of Hindi film Pink. Earlier this year, she worked in the NTR biopic.

Vivek Oberoi is playing the villain in Ram Charan's upcoming movie Vinaya Vidheya Rama. He was also a pivotal part of Mohanlal-starrer Lucifer. The trend of a Bollywood star playing the antagonist in a south production got a big boost with Akshay Kumar taking on Rajinikanth in 2.0. Nawazuddin Siddiqui also played a negative role in another Rajinikanth film – Petta.

Read: Vivek Oberoi Finishes Shooting for Ram Charan's Telugu Film

Most Bollywood star appearances in south films are either as cameos or as antagonists. A-listers here do not make the cut as the leading man in a south production usually, though there are exceptions. Kunal Kapoor starred in the lead of the Malayalam film Veeram, which was an adaptation of Shakespeare's play Macbeth.

"Veeram came at a time when I was being offered the same stuff in Bollywood, which is the good guy. Then suddenly I had the chance to play Macbeth, which is the anti-hero. I'd love to do more content down south because the movies there are fantastic. But I don't want to end up playing the typical Hindi movie actor who plays the villain down there – there's this slot of the actor from Hindi movies who plays villains in south films. Nothing wrong with that, but I would like to play something which is more character-driven,” says Kunal.

Read: Kunal Kapoor-starrer Veeram to Open BRICS Film Festival

He agrees that that the divide between north and south is decreasing. "I think the lines have blurred. If you look at something like Baahubali, it was dubbed in Hindi and it went on to earn the most amount of money ever. It's very important for talent and stories from all these industries across our country to come together," adds Kunal.

South movies being remade in Hindi, and vice versa, has been the trend for a while. South stars playing small roles in Bollywood films, and vice versa, has also been the norm. But just like Kunal Kapoor playing the lead in a Malayalam film, the day isn't very far when we'd see south actors playing the lead in Bollywood, and vice versa.

Karan Johar recently offered the lead role in the Hindi remake of Telugu film Dear Comrade to Vijay Deverakonda, who turned down the offer. Malayalam actor Dulquer Salmaan will soon be seen in his second Hindi film, The Zoya Factor.

Read: Karan Johar Places His Bets on Hindi Remake of Vijay Deverakonda's Dear Comrade Before Its Release

As Kunal said, it is important for talent and stories from all the industries in the country to come together, and going by the current trends, it does not seem to be a far-off reality anymore.

Watch the trailer of Saaho here:

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