In the post-liberalisation period, the Bengali film industry underwent a radical transformation, emerging as ‘Tollywood’ from the erstwhile ‘Tollygunge’. This change was propelled by factors such as media networks and channels, the new star and celebrity culture, innovative marketing and promotional strategies, diverse film exhibition and distribution models, and the corporatisation of film production. Tollygunge to Tollywood explores this transformation through a focus on the difference between the Bengali bhadralok and the masses, and the types of films each preferred.
In the various chapters, the authors explore the ‘crisis narrative’ of Bengali cinema, and how the industry, which had been floundering since the death of actor-superstar Uttam Kumar, was commercially revived by ‘masala’ films, much to the disdain of the bhadralok community. The Bengali ‘parallel’ film circuit comes in for its share of attention, not just from an aesthetic dimension, but by linking it to the processes of production, release, marketing and circulation. In this context, the book also studies Shree Venkatesh Films (SVF), a production house that enjoyed an absolute monopoly in the production-distribution-exhibition machinery.
The second section sheds light on the industrial landscape of the Bengali film industry, affected as it is by the omnipresent and omnipotent media convergence of TV, radio, print, and new media, and offers a glimpse into the ‘resurgence narrative’, a new phase where the binary between commercial and parallel cinema is being blurred through movies that combine aesthetics with commercial success.
This book will be of great interest to scholars of Film Studies, Culture Studies and Media Studies, as well as to journalists and film critics. It will also be a useful addition to film archives.
Anugyan Nag is Assistant Professor, Film, Media and Cultural Studies, AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Spandan Bhattacharya is Assistant Professor, Film Studies, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, Hyderabad.
Tables and Figures
Conclusion: Tollywood Post-Resurgence