There are many differences between Bollywood films and South Indian films. But, in the same breath, there are no differences at all.
Here are some of the “DIFFERENCES” first:
• The language, of course. The south movies are in Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, and Telugu. Bollywood movies are in Hindi.
• Majority of the South Indian films are about good guys vs. the bad guys. The good guy always wins in the end. Wherein the Bollywood movies do have different – albeit equally cliche – narratives. Their story lines, even with an incredibly predictable ending, are different.
• In South Indian films, the hero can fight tens and hundreds of bad guys alone. In Bollywood, they can’t.
• In South Indian films
, the heroes look like a common man; short, dark-skinned. In Bollywood, they “MUST” be fair in color, have six-pack abs and look like a model.
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• In South Indian films, (at least in A-grade movies) intimate scenes are still a no-no. Bollywood, on the other hand, is more liberal in this.
• In South Indian Films, the action sequences are unrealistic, over the top and absurd at times. While in Bollywood, it’s not much different, we sure are moving away from Rohit Shetty and Prabhu Deva-esque style of action.
• In South Indian films, the casts are quite talented. And it looks evident. In Bollywood, it isn’t necessarily the case. With nepotism reining big in the industry, for as long your title is Kapoor, Bhatt, and Shroff, nobody cares about your talent.
Coming to the similarities between Bollywood films and South Indian Films…
• Actress/female characters exist just as a token. They do nothing but to pull weird expressions and fill the time before the camera zooms to the actor again.
• Female actresses have to be fair-skinned. Neither of the industries can compromise on this. If you aren’t white skinned, you can’t be in the movie.
• Scripts in both industries never show up in the duration of the movie. (Although, Malayalam movies are quite script-centric!)
• Both always have some form of sexism attached somewhere. In songs, dialogs.
They both have some good things – and plenty of flaws. Saying which one is better, it’d be naïve on anyone’s part.
Although it’s worth noting that it’s sad that Bollywood represents Indian film industry on international forums, which automatically eliminates the South Indian films. And it’s sad because, away from the exaggerated action sequences and senseless plots, South has produced many exceptional movies, contributing significantly in Indian cinema.
Hope this answers your question.