JHARKHAND FILM INDUSTRY IN DOLDRUMS
The word Jhollywood (Which represents a very tiny almost non existent Jharkhand Film Industry) rhyming with our very own Bollywood besides Mollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood and all the other woods inspired by Hollywood, has resurfaced after lying almost in a dormant state for almost a decade, with the release of the latest Jharkhandi language film called ‘Baha – The Wild Flower’ directed by Shriprakash who is known as the first ever director of Jharkhandi films. This of course is not quite true.
To know in depth about this miniscule industry it is important to take a trip down its memory lanes. First of all the Jharkhand film industry itself is divided into many segments according to the languages prevalent here like Ho films, Uraon films, Nagpuri films, Chotanagpur films, Sadri films, Santhali films and above all Khortha films, out of all these language films the most popular are films made in Nagpuri and Santhali languages. While the Khortha film industry represents only the audio and music video album industry.
First and foremost let us take a peep into the Khortha film industry, an insight into which is given by a theatre actor named Basudeo Kumar, “I am hailing from Dhanbad in Jharkhand and I belonged to a theatre group named ‘Bikhre Moti’ which is almost akin to IPTA. Before telling you about the Khortha films any more of a music industry let me tell you that all the teenaged boys and girls who aspire to become actors or actresses have to go through the routine of doing music albums, in spite of having done theatre, shot by hand held cameras mostly in jungles and forests. We all contribute to make the albums, edit it on the home computers (mostly with the help of cameraman who have been shooting wedding albums with their video cameras) and even market it ourselves. This has almost become hereditary for all the aspiring artistes in Jharkhand, and to tell you the truth in the garb of shooting these music albums even porno films are shot on the sly, which are shown in almost 9 out of the 10 dilapidated and fast diminishing cinema halls, some of the frustrated artistes compromise on this only to make fast money. So who says casting couch for both male and female artistes does not exist even in the Jharkhand film industry. Some of the resourceful and daring artistes like me take the risk of coming to Kolkatta to do more serious theatre, modeling and ramp walking and ultimately land up in the Mecca of Bollywood like me in search of their own God fathers who can promote them to be stars like the Kapoors, the Kumars and the Khans one day. In the end I would say that the Jharkhand film industry which is still going through more downs then ups, more lows than highs, its own trials and tribulations has no future at all.”
Basudeo Kumar also revealed, “Some of the most prominent names of the runaway chartbusting music albums are ‘Chal Gori Ranchi Shaher’, ‘Mor Sajni’, ‘Okoe Hirla’, ‘Aye Sunita’, ‘Laha Dhuri Sindur’, ‘Akoying Apanare’, et al. I could reveal all these names because I have noted them down in my personal diary besides I have the entire collection back there in my hometown. Listening to these double meaning music albums was our favorite time pass besides me and my friends have also acted in some of these super hit music albums.”
Now let us move on to know about the history of Santhali films. This particular industry has indeed made some remarkable movies on record like ‘Hamaar Jharkhand’, ‘Sitanela Ke Sagun Supari’, ‘Chorag Chiken’, ‘Marag Tukare Mayno Meeru’, ‘Marshal’ which were released with a great fanfare. Here again mention must be made of Shriprakash who after having made a few documentaries on adivasis and later on inspired more and more adivasis, which includes some of the modern ones, to make small budget films for themselves with the funds collected from their own fraternity. Director Shriprakash also gave some more insight about Santhali films in general and about himself in particular, “To begin with, the plight of the Santhali film industry is still pitiable in spite of the recognition it got like a special Santhali film festival being held in Jamshedpur, being invited to foreign film festivals like Berlinale Film Festival apart from the Nepal Film Festival and the Kolkatta Film Festival. Besides I am also pleased with the fact that even our film industry has also got a new name albeit tagged with wood namely Jhollywood. But where is the business? Where is the exposure? The fault lies with us and our Government. While our counterpart Bhojpuri films are getting the entire boost and is flourishing in leaps and bounds. Jharkhand, Dhanbad and its nearby areas does not even have proper cinema halls whose rates are very low compared to Multiplexes all over India. Besides it does not even get the patronage of its own people simply because the female folk do not turn up at all. Children are not allowed to see even the clean and wholesome films before they grow up into adulthood. So the only audience we have is the youth in the age group of 18 – 20 and then they are also lured into watching porn films which are shown without any restriction or fear in almost all the cinema halls especially in the matinee and night shows. Even Men after the age of 30 do not come to the theatres for fear of social stigma. At this stage they would rather prefer to watch pirated CD’s of Bollywood films in the confines of their homes along with their families as these CD’s are easily available just for Rs. 25/- The only artistes who have survived here are Deepak Lohar (A National School Of Drama Alumni ) and Sheetal Sughandhini Bage the heroine of my film ‘Baha – The Wild Flower’. But in the end I would say that things are improving but only minimal, the progress is very slow that too not very steady. So you can say that up till now I have been able to make only issue based films on a shoe string budget from in house contributions. So you see our industry of all the languages is still ailing due to lack of adequate finances. The only consolation is that of late our films are being appreciated and getting global recognition mainly because of film festivals.”
Now moving on to Nagpuri films, which were inspired and based mostly on the Khortha film industries music albums, the first breaking news is that almost 50% of the Nagapuri films are now being made with digital technology. Some of the prominent Nagpuri films are ‘Sona Kar Nagpur’, ‘Aakrant’, ‘Preet’, starring none other than Deepak Lohar known more popularly as the angry young man of the Jharkhand film industry but now even Deepak Lohar has quit the Jharkhand film industry and made his way to Tinsel Ville, instead he ended up doing a Television Show in Mumbai. Even Nagpuri films had its share of flop shows for 5 continuous years in between with most of the films falling like nine pins at the Box Office Cash Counters but with the release of films like ‘Black Iron Man Birsa’, ‘Oolgulan – Ek Kranti’ et al the fate of Nagpuri films has undergone a complete volte-face.
In conclusion the latest news is that Jhollywood has silently joined hands with the Bhojpuri film industry as is witnessed with the recent release of two films like ‘Piya Tose Naina Laage’ and ‘Jugni’ reflecting the typical Bollywoodian tradition. So will these omen herald a grand union of Jhollywood and Bollywood in lieu with the Bhojpuria films?