There’s a southern invasion in Bollywood. Kollywood’s reigning divas have taken over screen space in Mumbai and have even bagged some of the most talked about films this year. Genelia D Souza, Shriya Saran, Priyamani, Sada, Asin, Shruti Haasan to Trisha are no longer just headturners seen in the odd commercial on television. From selling cola and toothpaste to being serenaded by the likes of Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar is no mean feat. But then Bollywood has always had a successful date with southern beauties — Hema Malini, Vyjayantimala, Rekha and Sridevi all have not only done Hindi films, but all of them have even ruled the box-office for years. The new millennium southern stars, Gautami, Rambha, Ramya and Reema Sen haven’t been quite able to follow up the glorious act of their predeccesors. But all that's set to change with the new bubblegum brigade who speak fluent Hindi and have almost severed their Kollywood roots for a life and career in Mumbai.

Shriya Saran (her four year old debut, Shukriya was a failure at the BO and led her to Chennai) has done Awarapan, Mission Istaanbul and claims to have been deluged with scripts in Bollywood. In fact, Shriya even has a Hollywood film directed by Deepa Mehta in her interesting CV. She says while both the film industries are the “same” she doesn’t quite feel different working in mainstream Hindi films. “I consider the entire film industry as one whole. It’s about working in your own country,” says Shriya. But there are slight differences though. “Down south people are more professional and adjusting. Actors also tend to learn technicalities of film-making but apart from that it is only about working in different languages. Flavour, script and concept does change but it is only because of the languages and local mass,” she says. Shriya’s playing the lead in Ek - The Power of One with Bobby Deol and Nana Patekar directed by Sangeet Sivam, Hollywood film The Other End Of The Line by Ashok Amritraj and Deepa Mehta’s What'’ Cooking.

Bubbly Genelia D’Souza who’s tasted stardom in Hyderabad enjoys every bit of her new stardom in Mumbai too. But she gushes about both, “The working style of both industries is similar. The only difference is the language.” She is currently shooting for Aneez Bazmi’s It's my life and Abbas-Mustan’s Life Partner.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh feels, “Southern actresses try their luck in Bollywood as it is a bigger platform. In Bollywood, whoever fits the role, gets the film. But I must say that Southern actors are more professional and technically sound.”
Filmmaker Vikram Bhatt feels, “Actors keep shifting base as per convenience. If I want a fresh face for a film, I wouldn’t mind casting a southern star. I’d have two advantages — the southern superstar would be a new face in Mumbai, two she’d be experienced and talented.”
Those could really be reasons enough for Bollywood filmmakers signing up these southern stars.