By Siddharth Prasad
Now that Bombay has officially reverted to being Mumbai, the big question being asked in nomenclatural circles is whether Bollywood should now be renamed Mollywood? The big hitch, of course, is that the Malayalam film industry already bears that name and will probably not agree to being called Kollywood (after Kerala) since that would almost certainly bring it into conflict with the Kannada film industry.
It’s a complicated situation, made worse by the shortage of consonants in the English language; and taxonomists are dreading the day cinematic production awakens in Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Malviya Nagar and Mizoram.
The situation seems set to become murkier; and if you want to appreciate all the nuances, it’s time you got to grips with the finer facets of filmdom. For instance, while we discuss Bollywood and Mollywood with breezy ease, most people are not even aware of the splendid achievements of Jollywood, the Jalandhar-based collective that produces highly economical Punjabi films and bhangra-based music videos.
Then there’s Dollywood, the newest sub-genre of Hindi cinema that deals with the recent spate of movies based in and on Delhi (Delhi 6, Chandni Chowk To China, Dev D, etc). This has been hailed as an important cinematic movement, marked by the capital’s increasing presence in new-age cinema and the contributions of talented directors from Delhi. (A suggestion that the term ‘Dollywood’ should be used to describe well-endowed actresses has been dismissed on the grounds that these are the days of Size Zero, and so there are no well-endowed actresses in Hindi cinema currently.)
And while on the subject of sizes, let us not forget Smallywood – the world of small-screen entertainment. Notwithstanding their almost-obsessive overuse of the letter ‘K’, television serials can claim credit for developing several new techniques in editing and wardrobe design. The dramatic ‘triple take’ which lets a character get up thrice from the same chair or turn her head three times in the same direction without having it fall off her shoulders is a Smallywood invention; as is the lo-rise saree that’s transparent even without being rained upon.
It is with some distaste that i now shed some light on the creepier side of filmdom. Crawlywood has its headquarters on the casting couch, and is almost as old as cinema itself.
It’s never officially had a name, since it’s never officially existed. But if unofficial reports are to be believed… hoo boy. Leading ladies who’ve taken the horizontal ladder to the top, assistant producers who conduct overnight auditions for newcomers – stories abound, and we hope they’re just stories.
The more positive aspect of newbies in the film world is Strolleywood. This term describes the large stream of small-town hopefuls who arrive daily in Mumbai with their heads in a dream and their stuff in a strolley. A lot of filmdom’s hottest stars started out this way and, with sheer talent and sheerer clothing, succeeded in replacing their strolleys with retinues of personal hairdressers, managers, mothers and mobile-phone-answerers.
If you find the idea of mobile-phone-answerers a trifle shallow, all we have to do is nip you across to the other side of the country – to Kolkata, the land of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal and Moon Moon Sen. This used to be called Tollywood, after Tollygunge where all the good bars are. But Tollywood is also the name being used by the Telugu film industry. This becomes especially confusing when you consider that not only do these centres of film-making have the same name, they are also the only two that haven’t yet heard of Size Zero heroines.
To remove ambiguity, it has been suggested that the Kolkata film industry be called Bengaliwood. But this idea has been countered by a faction who claim that given the torpid nature of the people in question, Bengaliwoodn’t might be a more suitable name.
There are many such debates raging around the country – issues like clubbing all flop films under the head of Follywood, and whether Qualiwood could be an appropriate descriptor for award-winning films, and whether the time is ripe for Hyderabad to claim the big ‘H’. We’ll leave these discussions for the experts. For us laymen it’s enough to be aware that the film industry is very complex. And that just as important as the Bollywood we know, is the Bollywood we don’t.