Monday, July 4, 2011

The Woods of South India

Bollywood. When the name was born, it was adored, loved and cuddled by everyone, just as any other eagerly-awaited, answer-to-all-problems new-born would be. As it grew, it proved itself to be interesting, funny, lively and full of mischief. Over time, it became renowned for its uniqueness: unique in being the only name in the world that was derived from its Holly original.

For some, the name signified their starstruck admiration and appreciation of Hollywood. For others, it was like raising their most meaningful finger at the Hollyer-than-thou Hollywood.

As years passed, the name caught on, mainly because of its convenience - rather than as a word pregnant with meaning - especially considering that its alternative was "Hindi Fillum Indaashtry."

Today 'Bollywood' - the name and the entity it stands for - has become so popular that even Hollywood celebrities (are said to) recognise (and revere) it.
Which is all very good.

Now, isn't it stretching things a bit tooooooooo far, far beyond Kanyakumari, when the South in turn adapts from Bollywood (which is already an adapted-to-boredom version), not just once, but four times over, and names themselves Kollywood, Tollywood, Mollywood and - hold your breath - Sandalwood.
And we complain incessantly about lack of originality.

For the uninitiated, the K- and M- versions stand for the languages they are based in, namely, Kannada and Malayalam. (Mollywood? Mollywood? For crying out loud!)

Because both Telugu and Tamil begin with 'T', some one who deserves to be bestowed the National award for creativity, suggested the brilliant new name, Sandalwood. (Deafening applause). To this day I don't know which is which. Nor do I care, but I digress.

What are we supposed to make of a statement like this?
"After her debut in Mollywood, she moved on to try her luck in Tollywood and is today the reigning princess of Kollywood and Sandalwood."



  1. Confusing isn't? It is the convenience that struck. In my part there is also a wood, Ollywood, can you believe? Okay, rather than speaking Hindi filam indashtry the Bolly wood is good, easy to pronounce, easy to relate.

  2. lol...nice read...

    Tollywood was taken by Tollygunge (Bengal)...probably the reason why Mollywood and Kollywood was tried...:-)


  3. Sudam: Ollywood?! Really? And I thought only the South was this nuts.

    SUB: Sorry, I didn't get that comment about Tollygunge and Tollywood. Can you explain once more? I am curious!

  4. Even the word Bollywood is aping of the word 'Hollywood'.. I really wonder, why can we Indians have our own terms..

    Good analysis. And the final punch was too good..

  5. "The cinema of West Bengal refers to the Tollygunge-based Bengali film industry in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. The origins of the nickname Tollywood, a portmanteau of the words Tollygunge and Hollywood, dates back to 1932."......WIKI

  6. I am not sure what you are talking about.

    FYI - Kollywood refers to Tamil film industry. Majority of Tamil film production houses are located in Kodambakam in Chennai, and so you know where the K comes from.

    And as far as Kannada film industry - It is sandalwood. Telugu film industry - Tollywood.

  7. SUB: Thanks! I get it now.

    Moulee: Now I am totally confused! I've seen a lot of newspapers (in Bangalore) use 'Kollywood' to mean Kannada Films - at least that's what it appeared to me. Looks like everyone's confused about it too! :) Wouldn't it have been much simpler and straightforward and elegant to use Bombay, Kodambakkam etc.!

  8. Nope. Kolywood is Kodambakkam. The place where all the original movies get copied :)

  9. Chalo, thanks to this post, my gyan has improved. :) Thanks, Sairam and Moulee, for pointing out the mistake!

  10. hi you missed one version. Nollywood,the Nigerian version of the Bollywood. Yes it is not only the Southerners who are the nuts to do that but the Africans too. But wait a minute, there are many Indians too there in Nigeria. Now we know how influential Indians are outside India too.

  11. Nice musings on the tinsel world, basically their origin lies in Hollywood i suppose

  12. Nollywood!!!! I am speechless.
    Thanks, MKeralam.

  13. I think,

    Tamil - Kollywood
    Kannada - Sandalwood
    Telugu - Tollywood
    Malayalam - Mollywood

    It seems the Korean film industry is very popular in China, Japan and even N E India. Not sure what they call themselves!

  14. Thanks, ES - I was so confused with the -ollywoods of South India. :)