Indian star Tamannaah Bhatia is a rarity in that she has projects across global streamers Disney Plus Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon. On top of that, she is a top box office draw in the Telugu and Tamil-language film industries.
Bhatia was one of the leads, playing a warrior princess, in S.S. Rajamouli’s “Baahubali” films. They released in 2015 and 2017 and collected $330 million, making them among the highest grossing Indian films of all time. The films also travelled widely, including to the Busan Film Festival, where both parts screened to much audience adulation.
The “Baahubali” films happened at a time when Bhatia had, in her words, appeared in several Hindi-language films that were “disappointing as an experience.”
“It was amazing to see such a unanimous appeal to a film – I never imagined that was ever even possible. So much so that I hear the same applause even now,” Bhatia told Variety. “And it’s been over six, seven years now and it’s strange, how a film can have that kind of an impact. I think we sometimes underestimate the power of cinema. When done well, it can really have a huge impact on people.”
After making an impact with films, which range from college romance “Happy Days” (2007) to “Intouchables” remake “Oopiri” (2016) and the “F2” (2019) comedy franchise, Bhatia is now a successful presence across streaming platforms.
Crime thriller streaming series, Telugu-language “The 11th Hour” for Aha, and Tamil-language “November Story” for Disney Plus Hotstar bowed in April and May respectively. In September, “Andhadhun” remake “Maestro,” also a thriller, skipped a theatrical release and had a direct-to-streaming premiere on Disney Plus Hotstar, while sports drama “Seetimaarr” had a successful run in cinemas.
“All these projects of mine, which were pretty much lockdown babies, they all did really well, and for me, that means a lot because in these times, even just getting a release itself is really hard,” said Bhatia. “My main intention with all the work I’m doing right now is to just not stick to anything particular. I want to explore different kinds of projects.”
To that end Bhatia has Netflix film, quirky romance “Plan A Plan B” and Amazon Prime Video slice-of-life friendship drama “Yaar Dost” lined up.
The busy star is also hosting “MasterChef India – Telugu,” her TV debut, on Gemini TV and Sun NXT and has a book “Back to the Roots: Celebrating Indian Wisdom and Wellness,” co-authored with Luke Coutinho, on release.
“When the idea of MasterChef came about me, I was like, this seems like the most organic thing to do – because even while the book was going on, it has largely been related to food and how you can actually use food, which can actually become your medicine,” said Bhatia.
With high profile exposure across platforms, the actor is now ready for her next steps. “Moving forwards, I would love to do something in the West,” said Bhatia. “The lines are blurring, people are more concerned with telling stories that are inclusive, because at the end, you’re still trying to show that we’re all people and the more inclusive we get in terms of content, it gets more consumed. So I definitely see myself doing a lot more work internationally in the future.”