Unsuccessful Bollywood heroines in demand down south now

Bangalore, Nov 17 (IANS) With top south Indian heroines demanding exorbitant fees, filmmakers down south are increasingly turning to not so successful Bollywood actresses like Sneha Ullal, Nisha Kothari and Suman Ranganathan to up the glamour quotient of their movies.

"Several Kannada producers feel casting Hindi film actresses, who are not in demand in Bollywood, will enhance the stature of their product. For instance, Nisha Kothari - she might have been rejected by the Hindi film audience, but the actress is busy in the south. And she is working with stars like Puneet (Raj Kumar) in 'Raaj'," K.C.N. Kumar, producer-distributor of Kannada films, told IANS.

"Another top actor, Upendra, too has been working with many Hindi film heroines like Nethanya, Suman Ranganathan and others. Even fans like watching Bollywood heroines," Kumar said.

South Indian heroines have hiked their fees and filmmakers can no longer afford to sign them on.

The usual budget of Kannada films, starring top actors like Upendra, Darshan, Ganesh and Puneet Raj Kumar, varies between Rs.50 million and Rs.70 million (Rs.5 crores to Rs.7 crores). And signing on a popular actress, who charges Rs.10 million to 20 million, may escalate the total budget.

One hit with a superstar is enough reason for an actress to raise her fees as there has been a significant increase in the number of films being made down south, but there are not many glamorous heroines.

"The producers are opting for Bollywood actresses mainly because they are available at a cheaper cost compared to established south Indian heroines. And these Mumbai-based actors have become popular. Most of them don't shy away from exposing. Any Bollywood actress known for her sex appeal would substantially add to a film's glamour quotient," said well-known Kannada film producer Mohan.

But director Prem, who has signed Nisha Kothari for "Raaj", says that he chose her because she suited the role.

"The fee of an actress is not my problem. I had seen her films and met her when I was making 'Preethi Eke Bhoomi Melidhe'. When I started work on the film, I thought she would best suit the role. 'Raaj' is a big film for Puneet sir and also for me. We thought of casting a well-known Bollywood heroine and Nisha fitted the bill perfectly," Prem said.

Sneha Ullal, the Aishwarya Rai look-alike who debuted in Bollywood with "Lucky" opposite Salman Khan, made a successful entry in Telugu films with hit movie "Ullasanga Uthsaahanga". She has also signed an untitled Telugu film with Vaibhav to be directed by Bhanu.

She has now been approached to do a Kannada remake of "Ullasanga Uthsaahanga" featuring top star Ganesh, who is ready to adjust his dates for her.

Girija Oak, who featured in a small role in "Taare Zameen Par" as Aamir Khan's girlfriend, is to star in director Hemanth Hegde's "Housefull".

"It was easy for me to accept Hemanth's offer because I knew his capabilities as a director. I also wanted to make a foray into south Indian films and thought it was a good opening for me," said Girija, who has also acted in many Marathi films.

The top southern actresses are not only demanding high prices in their home state but in Hindi films too. Asin, who has teamed up with Bollwyood superstar Aamir Khan in "Ghajini", is reportedly charging around Rs.20 million per film.

She has another multi-starrer Hindi film "London Dreams" in her kitty.

Nayantara and Ileana have been demanding over Rs.10 million per film and they get the price they ask for despite delivering box office duds. Thrisha and Shriya too fall in the same bracket.

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