Forget Hollywood – Nolly and Bolly are king


The Bollywood and Nollywood film industries are possibly the most prolific in the
film world today. The two industries churn out an average of more than 1 000
films annually.

The Nigerian film industry, nicknamed Nollywood, has only been producing
mainstream productions effectively for the past 20 years, whereas its Indian
counterpart (aka Bollywood) has been making movies for more than 100 years.

According to Aboobaker Moosa, representing the Bollywood industry, Indian films
used to focus mainly on local content, but the American TV series, Dallas
changed Bollywood’s approach to its production and globalisation also affected
the nature of the content. What followed was a focus, not only on India, but also
the rest of the world, bolstered by input from the Indian diaspora in all parts of
the globe.

The wide range of news on TV has also changed viewers’ perspectives. People
are now more open to a wider spectrum of content.

Zack Orji, CEO of Zack Orji Films and a veteran Nigerian actor, shares Moosa’s
view and adds that films have to be treated in a way with which viewers can
identify. “Our productions contain elements such as love, envy, hate and
jealousy – which are received universally. Our stories are built around value

Nollywood has been criticised for producing low quality films but Orji says that
the production values of Nigerian film has improved. “We started off by filming on
video because film was too expensive. When shooting on film, we could not
change lenses, had no mixers on location, no regular power supply and the
noise of generators impeded the quality of the production.

“Producers also wanted to spend as little as possible to earn back on their
investment. But as our audiences grew, so did income and the quality improved
due to producers being able to afford better gear. With all the challenges we
faced, our technicians’ skills improved.’ Being able now to film digitally further
enhanced this development. “We are now shooting for cinema and the content
changed for the better.’

Moosa agrees that shooting on 35mm is very expensive, but costs today are
more acceptable and affordable. “Specific leading Bollywood actors have a
worldwide following and our wholesome love stories appeal to people around
the world. We focus on morals and life’s values and realise that people in
poverty want to escape from their own world.

“Our core audience is in India, but we are also connected to a unique South
African generation which is more Africa orientated, as well as a second
generation in the UK – therefore we add a traditional Indian feeling as well as a
universal appeal to our films.’

The Nollywood industry has, of late, experienced quite a boost, since many films
are made through co-production deals with other countries. The Nigerian
government also now funds productions, mainly due to the fact the Nollywood
film industry has become a major contributor to the country’s GDP.

Bollywood’s main focus is on cinema. “Cinema-going is a social experience.
Today’s technology affects young people’s ability to socialise – they do it all on
their cellphones. We have a need to socialise and cinema serves that,’ says
Moosa, to which Orji adds: “We must share experiences. Cinema has a different
appeal than DVD. We must get out of the drudgery of sitting at home.’


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