An indigenous film industry for large indigenous populations: ‘Jhollywood’ tells the stories of modern Adivasis – Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam & Manipur

Jhollywood is calling

Forget the faux tribals grunting in Raavan. Jharkhand has its own film industry, made by Adivasi filmmakers for Adivasi viewers, says G VISHNUIS BEERA

Formula for a Jhollywood film: five songs, three fights, three romance scenes. Plus Adivasi angst and humour

Munda — Mani Ratnam’s pastiche Adivasi in Raavan played by Abhishek Bachchan — the first time a tribal person has been central to a Bollywood blockbuster? You can ponder this dire state of affairs or you can meet Jhollywood — one of India’s youngest film industries — a cinema made and watched by the Adivasi communities of Jharkhand.

Despite its parody-friendly name, Jhollywood serves the urgent necessity of telling the stories of modern Adivasis. Compare the amalgamated grunts of Abhishek Bachchan to the plot of Baha, a film made in both Nagpuri and Sadri, which premiered in April to a packed audience in Ranchi. Baha’s protagonist is a talented young Adivasi who comes to Ranchi, the city of his dreams, to become a singer. He finds love, exploitation, success and bitterness before he returns to his village and pragmatic parents. Baha is the spunky young woman who supports the protagonist’s ambitions, but not to the exclusion of her own. “Baha reflects the aspirations of today’s young Adivasis who are exposed to the music album culture,” says Shriprakash, Baha’s director. […]

The embryonic industry is working very hard to cater to the large indigenous populations in Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal and even Assam and Manipur. But breaking even is about as much as those in the business can hope for. […]

If Jharkhand’s local films are not doing so well, it is not because they do not cater to the masses. Jhollywood films follow a rough formula of five songs, three fight scenes, three romance scenes and a nice climax. Add that potent ingredient of Adivasi angst about oppression, and the unexpected delights of Adivasi humour — and you have what the politically correct refer to as a Chotanagpuri film. Shriprakash startlingly has made two versions of his film. One with the masala ingredients for local viewing and one with more ‘serious’ footage and English subtitles for outside viewership. […]

We borrow liberally from the adivasi folk tradition for our albums, but cinema is a different discipline altogether. Even though the situation has improved, cinema halls are closing down by the day making it harder for the films made in digital format,” Mundu says. Santhali filmmakers have made a dent in the market with characteristic independence. Gypsies with borrowed projectors, they take their movies from village to village, fair to fair, projecting the moving images onto walls or a white sheet.

JHOLLYWOOD IS deeply irritated that 10 years after the formation of their state, the industry gets its certification from the Patnabased Bihar and Jhar khand Motion Picture Association. […]

Shriprakash adds, “Adivasi language is the language of the poor. We do not need bombaiyya nakal (aping Bombay). What we need however is a grammar of the poor that addresses the problems of Adivasis along with entertainment”. As the Jhar khandi film industry awaits the release of four new films in the near future, the older filmmakers continue to struggle. Turning his back on the reluctant distributors, Shri prakash has bought a new projector to take films to the people.

Source: Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 26, Dated July 3, 2010
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Date Visited: Mon Apr 08 2013 11:15:28 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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