Allow me a few minutes to open your eyes to a whole new world of cinema.
I have already discussed behind-the-scenes Hollywood adventures, which, depending on your tastes and interests, can be as exotic and exciting as a Wadi Rum excursion in Jordan, or as simple and enjoyable as a Universal Studios theme park ride in Los Angeles. Perhaps that blog has even inspired you to plan a global ‘Hollywood’ tour of your own…
I ask you now to consider the following riddle:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
How many word combinations can you think of?
I predict that it will only be a matter of years before (H)ollywood takes over every consonant (and continent).
Or has it already?
You see, my new flatmates are very tech-savvy and have purchased the most comprehensive satellite package on the market, which streams into our place through three huge, trendy flat screens. I haven’t had the luxury of cable TV since I left home after high school, so I obviously spent my first 3 nights in the apartment, glued to the tube. It was like Dorothy meets Oz + audience meets Technicolor = all encompassed in a glorious, 21st century, living room moment.
As I excitedly flipped through the 398739847 channels, a whole new arena of televisual opportunity streamed before my eyes. And then it happened. My world suddenly changed. I discovered…the Nollywood channel.
Nigerian Hollywood (or rather, Nigerian Video Films). Who knew? I was engrossed. I had entered the heat of some sort of scandal! As I lost myself in the over-scripted dialogue, I was overcome with a wave of nostalgia: the quality of the sound and images evoked memories of my early 90’s home videos.
Now don’t get me wrong—the Hollywood spin-off industries are definitely much more cutting edge than my mom and her home footage of roller rinks and ‘mall bangs’ (Brit translation: teased, curly fringe of the early 90’s era).
And yes, that was industries, as in multiple ‘-ollywoods’, all over the world.
You’ve all presumably heard of Bollywood, the Indian film industry, which is actually the largest in the world, annually reaching over 3.6 billion viewers across South Asia, the UK and parts of the Middle East, Africa, North America, Russia and Oceania.
Millions of international visitors flock to Bombay (Mumbai) annually, embarking on guided city tours to indulge in a bit of the ‘Bollywood Dream’. But only if you actually hail from the subcontinent will you be privy to the inside happenings of South India’s cinematic hubs: Tollywood and Kollywood.
I bet you know where I’m going with this! All of these ‘-ollywoods’ could definitely make for yet another fascinating, globe-trotting adventure.
Maps, Cameras, Action!
Let’s get rolling…
After you’ve braved Bombay in search of Aishwarya Rai and co., why not be a bit more adventurous and take a trip to Andhra Pradesh, home of the Telugu, or Tollywood, film industry? With over 2700 film venues scattered throughout the state, you are bound to encounter some glistening cinematic gems during your Southern India trek, including Jalsa, the source of much local controversy due to its delayed release (late releases are considered bad omens in Tollywood!)
You could include in your itinerary a jaunt through the lovely, French Riviera-esque territory of Pondicherry or perhaps a more educational/spiritual quest to Puttaparthy.
India doesn’t mess around with its film industries! With over 20 official languages, there are a lot of diverse audiences to please. Though Hindi and Telugu are the first and second most spoken languages in India, Tamil is the country’s classical language—dating back 2200 years. The Tamil film industry, or Kollywood (as in K for Kodambakkam, a bustling neighbourhood in the in the southern capital city of Chennai) is thus one of the strongest and most competitive entertainment industries in India—there are frequent ‘Bollywood vs. Kollywood’ debates.
So why not venture further south and discover Kollywood—and Chennai—for yourself? Hotter than Hollywood, this equatorial commercial center is teeming over with culture. Embark on a comprehensive city tour to discover ancient tradition alongside contemporary, cosmopolitan life. See the Shaivites at the Kapaleeshwarar Temple, and later, join the Rajnikanth, or ‘Superstar Rajini’, fans at the cinema.
Of course you will want to relax on the gold, sandy beaches overlooking the sparkling Bay of Bengal…
You may find this topic rather absurd, my anecdotes slightly unbelievable. But I am definitely not alone in my (newfound) passion for Nollywood (and beyond!): I am flanked by millions of Nigerians, viewers across the African continent, and a growing percentage of Londoners. And most significantly, an entrepreneurial Cameroonian, who has recently spread this cinematic dream all the way down the Cape of Good Hope.
Leonard Ashu, inspired by the booming Nigerian Video Film market, has recently applied Nollywood’s cost efficient production methods in South Africa, founding the nationwide Movie Village of Jollywood.
Fancy a gander at the very first release? Probably not, but South Africa is still a great place to visit on vacation/holiday. Why not head down to Johannesburg and embark on a lustrous Cullinan Diamond Tour before heading off for a 3 day safari in the famous Kruger National Park?
Zebras + bling + the opportunity to pioneer an obscure film market. Sounds like the perfect vacation to me…
Ok people—I know this is getting a bit excessive, but I’m not making this stuff up. Seriously: go to these places and see the ‘–ollywood’ madness for yourselves. And maybe, during your next Caribbean seaside adventure, you can even try your hand at acting…
Explore a new career path at an open casting call in the Caribbean’s Collywood (not to be confused with the quirky, cartoon dog website).
You get the idea now—I’m not going into detail. If you don’t believe me, Google it.
Bollywood, Nollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood, Jollywood, Collywood…
I hope I’ve empowered you all with a bit of obscure, martini-sipping wit. Let’s make a Wollywood on the web. And petition to make You Tube, Yollywood.
Tell all of your friends how cool this is.
(There’s also Lollywood, Pollywood. Mollywood….).