Kollywood vs Bollywood

By T S Sudhir

Mani Rathnam hasn’t taken his Raavan to the land of the mythological Raavan. The official reason is the film isn’t ready yet but everyone knows that this talented maker of Kannathil Muthamittal, a film that had the ethnic Tamil strife in Sri Lanka as its backdrop, cannot be insensitive to the conditions of fellow Tamil brethren across the Palk Strait.

Superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan too are not part of the IIFA baraat that has flown into Colombo. Absent are A R Rahman, Vikram, Ajith, Suriya and Vijaykanth as well. The South Indian film chamber of commerce has threatened a boycott of Bollywood actors who are participating in the IIFA weekend.

But it is not as if the threat resulted in the glamour quotient going down several notches in Sri Lanka. Yes, after a protest was organised outside Amitabh Bachchan’s home in Mumbai, to request IIFA’s brand ambassador not to fly Mumbai-Colombo, Big B tweeted, “I am not going to IIFA” adding “The sentiments of all must be respected and I hope that we can plan and execute that with understanding, peace and grace.”

As a result, the Bachchan parivaar has also stayed away, another reason being that both Abhi and Ash are part of Raavan, which is also releasing in Tamil and Telugu. So is Shahrukh Khan.

But the likes of Hritik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan, Lara Dutta and Viveik Oberoi are there, arguing about the need to reach out to the community in Sri Lanka, including the Tamils.

Salman who is now IIFA’s social initiative ambassador, said, “I don’t really understand this. If there are some people here who are not doing well and are in trouble then we have come to entertain them. We are here to give them something. This way we won’t be able to visit Kashmir, Gujarat or Afghanistan. If our people are in difficulty, we should not abandon them.”

Tamil producers however ask if many of the Mumbai stars will have a similar attitude to an IIFA organised in Karachi. Wouldn’t they then raise questions about organising a show at a place where the perpetrators of 26/11 came from.

The wedge between Bollywood and the south won’t do any good to the already fragile relations between the industries. It has now become an Us vs Them issue. Kollywood thinks Mumbai is insensitive to its feelings and their presence in Colombo says louder than words that we can do without you.

And this is not the first time IIFA is witnessing a south vs Hindi war of words. At the 2006 IIFA awards function in Dubai, Malayalam superstar Mammootty had given the IIFA organisers a piece of his mind. “How can this be called International Indian Film Academy Awards when the competition is only limited to Hindi films? Indian cinema is not just Bollywood, and Hindi is not the only language. Why should our films be called South Indian cinema instead of being under the banner of Indian films?”

Mammootty’s diatribe was edited out of the version that went on air on a satellite channel later.

In Chennai, the boycott call has resulted in small pro-Tamil groups targetting the already-not-soaring Kites, because Hritik Roshan has flown to Colombo.

But while the big brother of the south film industry, Chennai, would have liked total unity while taking on Mumbai’s bigger brother attitude, there have been some chinks in the armour. Like Telugu producer Allu Arvind’s son Allu Sirish, who tweeted : “While I respect the sentiment of Tamils, Tamil cinema should speak for itself regarding IIFA in Sri Lanka instead of portraying it as if the whole South Indian film industry is against it. It’s not our issue. Or probably our ignorant media is portraying that way. At a humanitarian level I do empathize. But tell me honestly what do Telugu films have to do with the Sri Lankan issue?”

Ironically Sirish is the CEO of `South Scope’, a very well-produced film mag that in fact, was launched to focus on film news from the south because the existing film glossies focussed only on Bollywood.

Once the weekend is over, IIFA will be forgotten as yet another glitzy evening. But what it reinforces is the divide between Mumbai and the south. We haven’t come a long way from being labelled the Madrasi filmwaale. And the slogan on the IIFA website `One people, one world’ is just that. A slogan.


About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
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4 Responses to Kollywood vs Bollywood

  1. smitha says:

    Well put… however..more money….louder ur heard…kollywood, sandalwood, et al certainly needs to catch up!

  2. Serenity Stupidity says:

    Absolutely true, the slogan is hollow. U have expressed emotions, simply and powerfully. I had spent most of the first 2 decades of my life in North India, various states. The North indians are really ignorant about South India, even now, terming most as Madrasis. TN is known for Anti Hindi Stance. But i wonder why no one ever talks of the Hindi Heartland plus Gujara /Rajasthan even contemplating as having One of the Southern languages, , as third langauge. It was good i learnt some sanskrit, as a thrd language, but looking back now at my school days in MP, i feel there is a chink there. Hindi heartland does everything to advertise Hindi as National language, but I have hardly seen anyone there bother much about southern languages; while southern ppl are expected to learn Hindi. Irrespective of the merits/stance on the issue of Tamils in SL, it is necessary, that our country as a whole shows solidarity with atleast the Tamil Industry….Otherwise, the gap can only widen. I might have sounded like talking against Unity, but actually this country is far far away from True Unity in diversity….I see more discord and closed minds and hearts everywhere than Unity. No sincerity, No Integration…….I feel that India lacks true Integrity in many ways….Though this might sound negative….

  3. Padmaja says:

    Hi Sudhir,

    Great post as usual!

    I think we all know that Kollywood is lower down the “money” pecking ladder than Bollywood, hence this hoopla. However, there is a thread in your article that suggests that Kollywood = South film industry that I don’t agree with….this is similar to the Bollywood= Indian movie industry equation that allows organizers like IIFA to get away with focusing just on Bollywood.

    As a Kannada movie fan, I am reconciled to the fact that Kannada movies will never register on the national media ladder. Even in the South Filmfare awards, Kannada movies come a distant third. But please Sir, not from you!


  4. @padmaja : Kollywood is leading this battle against Mumbai as far as this IIFA is concerned … Perhaps you got an impression that Kollywood = south indian film industry because of that. It is not and I agree with you. But having said that, just like Mumbai has a big brother attitude in India, within the south, because of its greater star power and money muscle, Chennai also is the big brother here. regards.

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