x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Celebrating India's other film industries

The first South Indian International Movie Awards is coming to Dubai, to honour movies made in the languages and cultures of the subcontinent's south.

Sameera Reddy. AFP
Sameera Reddy. AFP

The first South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA) is being held in Dubai's World Trade Centre later this month.

Background to the south Indian film industry

While the likes of Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan have become household names across the world, helping creating the billion-dollar behemoth that is Bollywood, few outside India are likely to know that Bollywood is just one of several massive film industries in the country.

In the south, non-Hindi filmmaking - namely the Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam-language industries - has been thriving since the dawn of the 20th century and, in terms of output, is often much bigger than that of its Mumbai-based neighbour.

"As far as Bollywood and Hindi movies are concerned, they have already reached a level where everybody knows about it," says Anuj Rai, one of the organisers of SIIMA. "The South Indian film industry is still to get there."

Why the awards are being hosted now

Bollywood has had its own international ceremony, the International Indian Film Academy Awards (held last week in Singapore) since 2000, but nothing has really been done outside of India for South Indian films.

Recently, however, Bollywood has been turning more and more to the south for inspiration.

"The biggest hits in Hindi cinema have been remakes of movies from the south," says Rai, adding that two of Salman Khan's biggest recent hits - including last year's Bodyguard, which has become the second-highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time - were remakes. "So we thought it was high time the South Indian film industry also got some of the recognition."

How South Indian films fare within India

Although it's a much smaller market, South Indian films often earn as much, if not more, than Bollywood blockbusters, and are often made on the same scale. "Some movies have gone on to break the record of Bollywood movies."

Why it's in Dubai

Like Bollywood's international awards, SIIMA will be moving to a different country each year. "We chose Dubai for the first because it has so many South Indians living here," says Rai.

What's going to be happening on the night

The event is going to be hosted by the South Indian TV and film star Lakshmi Manchu and R Madhavan, a popular face in Tamil films, and alongside the actual gong-giving there will be performances from Sameera Reddy, Shruti Hassan, Hansika Motwani, Amla Paul and several others. According to Rai, 200 celebrities from the film industries of South India will be attending.

How the voting will work

A jury has shortlisted nominees from four categories - Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu. From these, fans can vote for their preferred choices and the winners of each award will be selected based on these results.

How you can get involved

The event takes place on June 22 at the World Trade Centre. Visit www.siima.in for more information and to vote.