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India is home to the world’s largest film industry, both in terms of number of films produced as well as tickets sold. While Bollywood and Hindi-language cinema constitutes a bulk of popular cinema made in the country, several regional industries are just as dynamic and noteworthy. Here we have rounded up the seven most influential Indian regional film industries you should be aware of.
The Telugu film industry is yet another South Indian film industry that closely follows behind Bollywood in reach. Based in Hyderabad, which also happens to be the location of Ramoji Film City – the largest film studio complex in the world – the film industry has been immensely influential in shaping the course of mainstream commercial cinema around the country.
Based out of Bengaluru, the Kannada film industry produces around 200 films each year – thereby marking itself as one of the country’s largest. Known locally as Chandanavana, and around the country as Sandalwood, this film industry has managed to produce a steady stream of both critically acclaimed and commercially successful cinema.
Headquartered in Chennai, the Tamil film industry is the second largest in India in terms of revenue and distribution. The Tamil film industry hasn’t just found a steady fan base in the state of Tamil Nadu and across South India, but also in pockets around the globe – from Southeast Asia and Oceania to parts of Europe, Africa and North America.
Co-existing with powerful Bollywood in Mumbai, the Marathi film industry is the oldest in India – claiming among its filmography Raja Harishchandra (1913), the country’s first full-length feature film. Continually producing critically acclaimed films for over a century, the Marathi film industry has carved an important space for itself as one of the country’s most influential regional industries.
With strong trends of social realism and character-driven stories, Malayalam cinema has earned a reputation for itself as one of India’s most noteworthy. Known locally as Mollywood, it also happens to be one of the country’s leading regional producers of cinema, producing well over 100 films a year.
Perhaps the most critically acclaimed of all regional industries, Bengali cinema has its roots in 1920s with the first feature Billwamangal coming out in 1919. Since then, the industry has been in the forefront of India’s parallel or alternate cinema scene. With direction from celebrated filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray, this film industry has established itself as one for cinephiles and film festival goers.
Though Bhojpuri language is often considered to be a dialect of Hindi, Bhopjpuri cinema has emerged as a vibrant entity of its own over the years. The industry first came to be with the release of Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo in 1963 after India’s first president Dr. Rajendra Prasad requested for a film to be made in Bhojpuri language.