Fact: India is the number one producer of films in the world. Not the United States of America, not China, but India. And by a longshot.
The country’s powerful Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) publishes a report every year that typically unfurls a mountain of data about the domestic film industry on global analysts. For 2009, CBFC figures revealed that India produced a staggering 2,961 films, of which 1,288 were features. A 2011 report by multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young, Spotlight on India’s Entertainment Economy, projected that India’s film industry would grow from $3.2 billion in 2010 to $5 billion by 2014; a compound annual growth rate of 14.1 percent. Hollywood wishes it had half that kind of growth.
Now while Bollywood is and will likely forever remain the poster child for Indian film, the entire kit and kaboodle is a Hydra; a massive and epic multi-lingual industry with numerous players.
This is vital to keep in mind. Bollywood, based in Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra, is India’s Hindi-language film industry. There are others: Tamil cinema, or Kollywood, based in Chennai; Kannada cinema, or Sandalwood, based in Bangalore and Karnataka; Gujurati cinema, based in Ahmedabad and Gujurat; and Malayalam cinema, or Mollywood, based in Kochi and Kerala. And many, many more.
Tally Ho Tollywood
One genre of India’s film industry that gives even Bollywood a run for its rupee, however, is Tollywood. The films of Telugu cinema, out of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, have been around for over a century. Tollywood has had a seismic impact and influence over India’s film industry as a whole. Indeed, Telugu films have competed for British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, Academy Awards and other prestigious prizes at international film festivals.
The epicentre of all this resides in India’s fourth most populous city, Hyderabad. The capital of Andra Pradesh is a feverish metropolis with a major attraction for cinephiles and tourists alike. Ramoji Film City is the largest integrated film city on the planet (you can find it in the Guinness Book of World Records) and produces films not just in Telugu but Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, Bengali, Oriya, Bhojpuri and English as well.
This factory of cinema in the Hyderabad suburb of Hayathnagar lures over 1.5 million visitors per year and probably mints as much money, if not more, from tourism than from film production. But Ramoji Film City is by no means the only base of Tollywood tourism in Andra Pradesh. Many top Hyderabad hotels also help facilitate tours of Tollywood stars’ homes in neighbourhoods like Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills. Stars like Pawan Kalyan, Mahesh Babu, Junior NTR and Ram Charan. Believe it.
Essential Telugu Flicks
Other tastes of Tollywood in Hyderabad include visits to film shoots, tours of locales made famous in important Telugu films and, incredibly, even the chance to be an extra or sit in on post-production work.
Before you visit Hyderabad and get the true Tollywood experience, however, it may be worth your while to check out some Telugu cinema classics. Here are ten of Tollywood’s best.
Maya Bazaar (1957)
Lava Kusa (1963)
Sagara Sangamam (1983)
Aakali Rajyam (1981)
Alluri Seetharama Raju (1974)
Tholi Prema (1998)
Jason recently travelled all through India and has some great tips and tricks to share with people about the country.