From Cinema then to Cinema Today: The case of Gujarati and Marathi Cinema

This all goes back to the formation of the two new states – Maharashtra and Gujarat and the two men who lead Indulal Yagnik and Acharya Atre. They were both leading the two movements ‘Maha Gujarat’ and ‘Samyukta Maharastra’ respectively. It is a lesser-acknowledged fact then, that the both of them were indeed filmmakers. It has been decades since then and Gujarati cinema has come a long way from the two films that it began within 1932. However, we have only started to come into our own now. Ironically, both the regional film industries — Marathi and Gujarati — have been quite different. During the past 50 years both the film industries saw many ups and downs, but Marathi Cinema has truly excelled to find an identity of its own, and Gujarati Cinema has just only begun realizing its potential. Gujarati film industry recorded a close to eight times rise in its box-office collections in 2015 at Rs. 55 crores (up from Rs. 7 crore in 2014 showing the highest growth for regional cinema as a whole.

It wasn’t an easy journey for Marathi Movies that survived in the shadow of the highly commercial and money spinning Hindi Film Industry also based in Maharashtra. However, since past coming years, there have been some excellent films budding out of Maharashtra. It is a big help that now a hold over Marathi channels that have to purchase and then showcase regional cinema onto Cable TV, a model that has largely helped people reconnect to the medium. Marathi films have always attracted to viewers that are engrossed in a chronicle rather than spectacle. Deool (2004), Tingya (2008), Gabhricha Paus (2009), Natrang (2010), Balak Palak (2013) and Anumati (2013) all gained a critical acclaim and few of them were even able to generate a remuneration at the box office. Sanjay Jadhav’s Duniyadari (2013) released simultaneously with Chennai Express and competed the Shah Rukh Khan flick in every centre where the two films compete, as per reports.

Gujarati Cinema that quite lacked both in terms of risqué storytelling, investment and in creating an appeal amongst the youth, has finally bridged that barrier. The remarkable success is seen attracting more entrepreneurs than ever before into Gujarati filmmaking. At least 75-80 new Gujarati films are in the pipeline this year, most of which have an urban setting. Looks like the big revolution of Gujarati cinema is here with the very best of filmmaking techniques, technology, sound, contemporary stories and fresh content. The penetration of multiplexes in the smaller towns over the past five years has been an added blessing for producers.

While it’s been a loud entry for Gujarati Cinema, Marathi Cinema took the quieter but rather substantial route and received loud appreciation. But, today Marathi film industry doing quite well. In past few years, Marathi films Shwaas, Court and Harishchandrachi Factory were selected to represent India at the Oscars. Marathi film industry was largely revived with the help of creative efforts. And then, of course, came Sairat that changed everything.

But right now besides being critical is also a time to celebrate. Having suffered alienation from the mainstream audience for decades, Gujarati cinema has quickly revived itself with renewed content and modern technology in line with its other regional counterparts.

Cover Graphic: Aniruddha Das


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