Bikes, bulls: Indian spoof cinema redefines filmmaking

Thu Dec 3, 2009 2:02am EST
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

PANAJI, India (Reuters Life!) - What does it take to make a movie? A bicycle, a bullock cart, a small handycam and a soaring imagination -- that's what Indian director Shaikh Nasir will tell you.

Nasir is one of several makers of low-budget, spoof movies set in the industrial town of Malegaon, around 300 km (190 miles) from Mumbai, the home of Bollywood, and a world apart from the glitzy sets, big-name stars and lavish productions of the world's most prolific film industry.

For 10 years, Nasir has made films with local actors and almost no equipment, often on a budget of a little more than $1,000. Many are parodies of Bollywood hits.

"We don't have fancy equipment like trolleys, so we mount our camera on a bicycle instead. A bullock cart functions as a crane. A handycam is our camera. But our films have heart," Nasir said.

Although crudely made, the films are a hit with Indian audiences, and two of the country's film festivals -- the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) and the Osian Film Fest -- have special showings for these productions.

"These are immensely popular films, at least in the areas they are released in," said Bhupendra Kainthola, who heads the Indian section at this year's IFFI.

"They may be low budget, and may be not technically as polished, but they are nevertheless a part of our film culture."

Nasir, a former video parlor owner who took to filmmaking after watching Bollywood cult classic "Sholay," edited his first film on VHS as he had no access to computers.   Continued...