forget Bollywood

…give me Kollywood!

This video is from the Tamil movie Sivakaasi starring the popular Tamil actor, Vijay. Between Frankfurt, Germany and Chennai, Lufthansa shows a Tamil movie. Some of them are pure escapism like Vijay movies, others are serious like Kaadhal, a movie that left me sobbing at the ending.

Kaadhal takes place in Madurai, a city I am familiar with. It’s the story of tragic young love. The main character, Murugan, falls in love with a girl but no one wants them to be together, and he is beaten by the girl’s father when he refuses to leave her. At the end of the movie, the girl — who is now grown with a husband and child — sees her old love in the street. Murugan is now a crazy beggar. She is with her husband and child, but despite that she runs to her old love, falls to the ground, and holds him. It is raining, she is crying, and as her husband looks on, she tells Murugan that she will never leave him again. By the look on the husband’s face you know that both she and her husband will take care of her old love.

I was told that the movie is based on a true story — supposedly the director heard the story on a train journey from the actor who plays the husband. I was bawling at the end of this movie and when I stepped into the Chennai airport last year I still had tears in my eyes.

Many people here only know about Bollywood movies, that is, Hindi movies. The word “Bollywood” comes from using the B in Bombay (now Mumbai) and linking it to “wood” in Hollywood. Bombay is where many of the early movies were filmed. However, there are Tamil movies based in Chennai, Malayalam movies from Kerala, and the Bengali industry based in Kolkata. In fact, the number of Telugu (Tollywood) and Tamil (Kollywood) movies that are made have outnumbered Bollywood movies for the last ten years. Movie fans are so loyal to the Tamil actors that they are elected to the government in Tamil Nadu. When I ride in a autorickshaw sometimes there’s a picture of Vijay next to the Shiva or Ganesh decal. I’ll ask the driver, “you like Vijay?” — “Yes, madam, Vijay No. 1! He is SUPER, madam!”

It’s too bad that nowadays Indian movies are defined almost exclusively by Bollywood movies, most of which are musicals. But of course that’s why people love Bollywood movies, for all the flash and the singing and dancing. You have to admit that the Bollywood stars aren’t hard on the eyes:


…long time Bollywood actor, Amitabh Bachchan AKA the “Big B”. The guy is in his 60s and to me he’s definitely the bomb!

or Shahrukh Kahn…

and when the Big B and SRK are in a movie together….

…now THAT’S what I’m talking about!

But I love the old classic movies of Bengali movie director, Satyagit Ray. one of my favorites is Charulata made in 1964. Satyagit Ray was one of the greatest film directors of all time, not just in Indian cinema, but in world cinema.

Two more weeks and I’m back in Kollywood!

4 thoughts on “forget Bollywood

  1. This was really interesting. I had no idea about all these _ollywoods! Thanks, Linda. I’m going to have to check out some Satyagit Ray films (I know I’ve seen a couple, but don’t remember which). After reading your post, I found < HREF="http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,4120,708691,00.html" REL="nofollow">this<> interesting article about him.

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