Rise of Regional cinema
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In a space dominated by Bollywood and clustered with Hollywood hits, regional films followed a continuum of existence without really getting any love from the audience. Now, over the past few years and especially in the past couple of months, regional films have blown away the socks from Hindi and English films. Bengali films, that were consigned too artsy, found mainstream acceptance after films like Hemlock Society and Bhooter Bhabishyat were released in prominent multiplexes in metros outside Kolkata; Noted Marathi play Natsamrat so impressed Amitabh Bachchan that he has signed on to act in the film as an aging Shakespeare actor in this adaptation of V V Shirwadkar's (popular playwright Kusumagraj) literary masterpiece. Other films like Kaksparsh and Deool created a stir in mainstream circles because of their content. On the other hand, Punjabi films like Jatt and Juliet and Carry On Jatta have done more business in the North than blockbuster films like The Amazing Spider-man and Rowdy Rathore that released during the same time. A rookie director from Gujarat made a film in his language, Kevi Rite Jaish and has been laughing all the way to the bank. South films like Eega and Billa 2 recently became huge hits abroad with the former crossing the million dollar mark in the US alone. Their success has caught the imagination of leading Hindi studios like Eros, Reliance and Disney UTV as well.
Clearly, regional cinema is witnessing a renaissance. All of this acclaim and box-office success has meant that production values have become more slick, film-makers are open to experimentation in regional films and backed by corporates and leading producers, no longer afraid of wooing stars. Interestingly, they all cater to the youth market and armed by a new sense of zeal from film-makers are finding new audiences apart from their traditional markets. In fact, the factors for the current renaissance are many and varied as film-makers, stars and producers tell Screen. In an attempt to bring greater clarity on each of these main regional industries, we have decided to write about them once a week to ensure that similar as well as opposing viewpoints are not drowned out. This week, we focus on Marathi cinema.
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