Fan Film, Fan Films

Homemade Bollywood Brings Relief In India

© Washington Post

© Washington Post

For most fan filmmakers, making a movie is an opportunity to have some fun, learn a little and pass the time. A recent article in The Washington Post, however, profiles a young Indian fan filmer whose spoofs of Bollywood and Superman are bringing relief and cheer to his struggling community.

Shaikh Nasir dropped out of school a few years ago, but rather than go to work in the power loom factories that are integral to his small textile town, he began making low-budget parodies that find the life, politics and customs of his area woven into them. Made for a 2,000th of a typical Bollywood production, his flicks are low-key and low-tech: for a crane shot, he sits at the end of a cart, while to make his Superman fly, his hero lies flat on a bicycle’s seat with his arms stretched out.

While he might sound like any other fan filmmaker, however, his flicks are having a greater effect, as the article illustrates:

Nasir is the father of a homegrown film industry that is famous for its parodies of blockbuster movies from Bollywood, India’s Hindi film capital. For Malegaon’s power-loom workers and others laboring long hours for low pay, his wild and wacky movies provide some relief from bleak lives interrupted by frequent sectarian clashes and bomb blasts. In September, a motorcycle bombing killed six people and injured more than 100 here.

“There is no other entertainment in our town. We are mad about movies. After 14 hours of backbreaking work in power looms daily, the workers want to wear wings and fly,” Nasir said. “My parodies help them escape.”

The film industry in Malegaon, about 175 miles northeast of India’s mainstream movie city of Mumbai, is made up of half a dozen directors who pick famous movies, tweak the plots and pepper them with local images and idioms. For actors and technicians, the directors make do with moonlighting weavers, teachers, pharmacists, carpenters, plumbers and wedding-video makers.

On a recent evening, Muhammad Shakib, a power-loom worker, walked up to a tiny movie rental store here and asked for a copy of another popular remake.

“These movies tell the local story in the local dialect. The jokes are from this soil,” he said, hiding his smile with his fingers. “We recognize the people in the movie. My wife and I say: ‘There’s our grocery man. There’s that weaver from the neighborhood. And that’s our tailor.’

It’s a great profile and a wonderful example of how fan films can not only entertain but bring a community together and help folks take a break from the difficulties of everyday life—and that’s a lesson that translates into every country these days.

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2 Responses to “Homemade Bollywood Brings Relief In India”

  1. Julian

    I remember watching a movie when I was much younger about a slave revolt. The leader had told one of the characters that a storyteller who was there entertaining a crowd with one of his stories, was just as important as any of the fighters. He was providing relief for people as he took their minds away from their daily struggles through the escape of imagination. Fan films are a great way to continue such a tradition.

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