Bollywood goes exploring small town India
By Bedika Moving away from the familiar comfort of metros, a handful of filmmakers are putting the realities and stories of small town India back on Bollywood's map.
While metros have provided the backdrop of many a hits, provincial reality has beckoned directors like Habib Faisal, Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee to leave Delhi and Mumbai, the usual setting of their films, to explore different regions in "Ishaqzaade", "Gangs of Wasseypur" and "Shanghai".
Kashyap, whose last outing "That Girl In Yellow Boots" exposed the dark underbelly of Mumbai, decided to move the setting of his two-part revenge saga "Gangs of Wasseypur" in Dhanbad.
"That town is very interesting. People know each other in small town so even a gangster will address his victim saying, 'Chacha (uncle) don't tell anyone or I will shoot you.' That's how they talk. It was exciting to explore the place and the mindset of people in my film. Since I am telling the entire mafia story and their birth, the canvas is also bigger," Anurag told PTI.
Faisal, who wrote and directed Delhi-based stories like "Band Baaza Baarat" and "Do Dooni Chaar", was charmed by the "spunk and vibrancy" of small towns and decided to bring that in his second film "Ishaqzaade".
"Small towns are a lot more vibrant and colourful. People there have a more interesting sense of humour and there is different rhythm to life. Big cities are same in many ways," says Faisal, who shot his film in Lucknow and its surrounding areas.
Faisal, however, believes this change has been happening in cinema for sometime and has become popular only recently. "It is not just me. We had never seen a film set in Jamshedpur until 'Udaan' came and it was really interesting to see a superstar like Salman Khan play Chulbul Pandey in 'Dabangg'. It has been happening for sometime."
Banerjee, who brought alive the absurdities, corruption and voyeuristic elements of Delhi in "Khosla Ka Ghosla", "Oye Lucky Lucky Oye" and "Love Sex Aur Dhoka", has chosen a fictional small town Bharat Nagar to tell the story of his ambitious political thriller "Shanghai".
Shot in real locations of Latur and Baramati, it will be one of the few films to give a rare glimpse of rural Maharashtra in a Bollywood movie. "My small town is fictional. It could be anywhere but we shot in Latur and Baramati areas and people were really nice to us. We were in towns where the film industry did not exist so our film did not have any extras. The mob that you see is made of real people of the city. We have shot real policemen, real party workers and political offices," Banerjee says.
Tigmanshu Dhulia is another director who keeps returning to such places in his films. While his "Haasil" was about the student politics and was shot around Allahabad, where the director grew up.
Similarly, his "Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster" was shot in Gujarat. With "Paan Singh Tomar", his last hit, the director explore the ravines of Chambal, an area he became familiar with while working on Shekhar Kapur's "Bandit Queen" as casting director.
Dhulia now plans to direct a love story "Milan Talkies" in a small town. "While communication has become easy thanks to mobile phones and everything, it is still very difficult to fall in love in small towns. I will continue to base my stories in small towns till they remain small."
Prakash Jha's films are mostly set in Bihar and more recent ones like "Raajneeti" and "Aarakshan" in Bhopal. Metros like Delhi and Mumbai have been the muse of many filmmakers and will continue to enjoy a privileged spot but the provincial India can now boast its own space in cinema. PTI