Made on a budget of 69 million dollars, RRR is one of the most expensive Indian movies to date. Considering the substantial budget and the influence that RRR has had globally, my initial assumption was Bollywood. However, RRR was actually produced by another film industry—Tollywood.
Essentially, Tollywood is a cinema hub in Southern India. “Tolly” stands for “Telugu,” the language spoken in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Most Telugu cinema is filmed in Hyderabad, where they have their own Tinsel town called Film Nagar.
What distinguishes Tollywood from Bollywood? In the context of North and South Korea, South Korean movies are often referred to simply as Korean movies due to the limited information available about North Korea, given its unique political climate. The primary difference between Bollywood and Tollywood is once again the location. Bollywood is primarily centralized in Mumbai, formerly known as “Bombay,” hence the name Bollywood. The languages spoken in Bollywood films are mainly Hindi, the most widely spoken language in India. On the other hand, Tollywood films are often based on the Telugu language.
Furthermore, Rajamouli once expressed his dislike for the term “Tollywood” and prefers to categorize these films as Telugu films. One reason for Tollywood’s aversion to Bollywood and the rejection of the “-wood” terminology is the disdain that Indian right-wingers harbor toward Bollywood, perceiving it as dominated by Muslim or liberal actors and not always showcasing Indian culture in every scene, as Tollywood does. For me, neither Bollywood nor Tollywood fulfills their purpose. (I bet you chuckled while watching the film.)
Whenever I think of “Indian cinema,” a very distinct picture comes to mind: a vast amount of singing and dancing, meaningless dialogues, and heroic characters, always leading to happy endings. While this is one of the reasons why Tollywood is surpassing Bollywood, as the plots and images provided by Tollywood films seem more realistic and interesting, albeit a bit nonsensical. In the midst of the tiring lifestyle that many people worldwide are enduring, these Tollywood films are in high demand. To be honest, I really enjoy watching Tollywood films when I’ve completed a week of learning and work and just want to relax and have some fun.
Now, Tollywood films often explore a diverse range of genres, including family dramas, historical epics, romantic comedies, and action-packed thrillers. Many Tollywood films incorporate mythological and historical themes, drawing inspiration from rich Indian cultural and religious narratives. Having its technical excellence in filmmaking, including impressive visual effects and high production values, Tollywood could potentially change the “traditional Indian films” and made it more like its name – Hollywood style movies.