first_imgIn herd-mentality-driven Bollywood, the LOC is distinct and clear: India and Bharat. The former represents the hi-tech, modern, sexy, uber cool life in the fast lane. The latter symbolizes timeless naivette of a fraternity frozen in a time-warp — trusting, innocent, unsophisticated to the ways of the world, frequently mesmerized by all that the dazzling, magical big cities promise and desperately eager to mosey in and croon “Saala Mein to Saab Ban Gaya!” Needless to say, the men and women belonging there are lip-smacking “soft targets” for the evil, conniving, exploitative and opportunistic Sheheri babu.   Peepli LiveIt is a stereotypical image that continues to be re-enforced by most Bollywood mainstream filmmakers, hooked and zapped by metro-centric themes and blown by exotic phoren locales. Seldom, if ever, have they displayed the vision, courage or desire to consider rural India as an interesting, dramatic backdrop to unspool fascinating, human-interest stories that entertain, enrich and empower.It takes a gutsy filmmaker to break new ground — and bingo, before you can say Kites or Raavan, there will be others to follow! The buzz is that hit-starved B-town could well be cozying up to small towns, following the success of films, such as Udaan, Peepli Live, Antardwand and Aakrosh. Far from the synthetic, exotic locales, violent intrigues of the underworld or Kashmir-centric offerings, these tales explored real causes and concerns (visible and subliminal) — sensitive, hard-hitting, relevant, laced with delicious irony and played out in unknown and unsung locales of Bharat.   DabanggMuch has been written about Producer Aamir Khan’s daring initiative to bankroll Peepli, a film located in an imaginary village in North India. A riveting satire on the subject of — excuse me! — farmers suicide, debutante Anusha Rizvi’s maiden offering focused totally on everything rural and resonated thumpingly with both the critics and the box-office…. Even more importantly, it got a shot at the Oscars! Young Vikram Motwani’s Udaan, located at Jamshedpur and produced by filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, made big waves at Cannes and at festivals around the world and also garnered a decent take at the box office. Sushil Rajpal’s Antardwand, dealing with groom kidnapping, and Priyadarshan’s Aakrosh, highlighting honor killings, are set in Northern India. As everyone must know, the new, big hit of the day, Dabangg is also set in Uttar Pradesh.So what’s happening to the Swiss Alps, Holland, Australia and all those sexy, exotic spots, the desperately seeking B-town directors rush to when the substance quotient is zilch?Dabangg director Abhinav Kashyap is amused, but offers a reality check. “While it’s true that often foreign, exotic locales are ‘must have’ components for some filmmakers, too much is being made of this U.P.-Bihar thing. It’s a coincidence, boss, that all these films came together. For me, democratization of geographical boundaries is a good sign, because it indicates a genuine pan-India feel. Also it eliminates the idea of locales and settings as merely a trap or prop. It is as much a character as the characters themselves.”   AakroshDirector Rajpal agrees. He thinks that these films are made by gutsy, courageous and committed directors determined to take risks, refusing to compromise and passionately keen to offer new-age audiences a different, non-metro, emotional and visual experience. “Also these are navigated by guys who are totally familiar with the milieu of the place in terms of sights, sounds and basic culture. Isn’t Peepli a great example of this thinking? It worked, didn’t it? No prizes for what happened to Kites and Raavan! The bottom line is simple: if you have an interesting story to tell (with the rural backdrop as a natural fit) imbued with universal appeal and you have the ability to tell it in an engaging way, it is bound to find its audience.”Rajpal has a point. Come to think of it, this genre has no greater example than Satyajit Ray’s classic, timeless, masterpiece Pather Panchali — made in the mid-fifties — which swept away every major international award and also did a thumping box office business. It was set in a little known village in West Bengal.The small screen has been bitten by this bug as well. Tossing aside the done-to-death locales and costumes of Gujarat and Rajasthan, North India appears to be the new flavor of the day. Popular serials like Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo, Gunahon ka Devta and Sangini are set in this terrain. The much-awaited re-make of Humlog is also expected to be played out here…. So Shilpa Shetty was not too off the mark when she belted out”Main Aayi Hoon UP, Bihar lootne in Shool, right?    Related Itemslast_img read more