Did you know that the Gujarati cinema industry is referred to as Dhollywood or Gollywood? We all have known, loved and admired the Gujarati culture and its heritage. Ever since its inception in the 1930s, this one of the largest vernacular and regional part of the cinema of India and has successfully produced over 1,000 Gujarati movies. This industry has seen a variety of different eras and now it stands as one of the most sought after type of mode of entertainment in the state. Some of the movies in the current era has even gathered international accolades for its creativity.
Silent Films in Gujarat:
Way before the films became a crucial part of the media industry, dominating the screens were the silent films. In Gujarati silent films, people were seen being closely related to the culture and social life of the people there which made it immensely popular among the masses. Between the duration of 1913 and 1931 there were around 20 top rated media companies producing such films in Gujarati and mostly functioning from Bombay.
One of the most popular silent films in Guajarat goes by the name of Bilwamangal and Rustomji Dhotiwala was the director who steered this movie to success. Another interesting and highly acclaimed silent film of that era was Narsinh Mehta but it had also been admired for its iconic song Vaishnav Jan to which even the movie goers used to sing in unison.
Dwarkadas Sampat is one of the most popular Gujarati film producer and began getting involved in this film industry by setting up business in Rajkot. His way of making Gujarati cinema popular was by getting a projector and holding mass film shows. He also went on to establish the company Patankar friends and company with the help of S.N. Patankar film productions company. Kach Devyani released in 1920 was the company first movie to be released here depicting the typical Gujarati culture. Later Sampat went on to establish the famous Kohinoor film company. Then Kohinoor company even made its first film showcasing the colorful culture of Gujarat.
Early Talkies in Gujarat:
The first short Gujarati sound film called Chavchav No Murabbo was brought in to screen for public viewing on 4th February 1931 in Bombay. It featured the very first sound in any Indian film called mane Mankad Karde. It is commendable that even before the release of a full length Gujarati sound film, 2 short sound films were already released with the Hindi film industry. However the landmark movie which made its appearance in the Gujarati cinema industry was Narsinh Mehta in the year 1932 which was directed by Nanubhai Vakil. The movie showcased the life of saint Narsinh Mehta.
The next movie to be released in 1932 was Sati Savitri which was based on the movie Savitri and Satyavan. Later on by 1935 a comedy movie was also released which was named Ghar Jamai and was directed by homi master. This movie also came with a social message which depicted the problematic attitude shown by the society towards the freedom of women. The first hugely and widely successful movie was Gunsundari which was so successful that it was released thrice in between 1927 and 1948. However in between the years of 1941 and 1946 no movies were produced in the Gujarati movie industry since rationing was needed to assist in World War 2.
After independence Movies in Gujarat:
There was a huge surge of production in Gujarati movies post the independence in the year 1947. In 1948 alone 26 Gujarati films were produced and released. The movies released in between the years 1946 and 1952, 74 different movies in Gujarat were produced and admired which were related to stories about dacoits, saints or sati. All these movies were made for the masses and the rural audience who are very much familiar with these subjects. Numerous movies which are made were relatable with the life and problems observed by the people residing this region and especially the folklores and myths.
Decline and Revival of Gujarati Cinema:
In the early 2000s less than 20 films have been produced and released however in 2005 a number of tax exemptions were announced by the government of Gujarat for entertainment. 5 lakh rupees of subsidy was also announced by the government for various Gujarati films. This was the revival point of Gujarati cinema in general. These exemptions resulted in a sudden surge of Gujarati movie production and release. Eventually with the onset of new technology and styles in the cinematic universe the production value of the movies also became better as its demand became higher and higher. In the golden globe awards of 2018 Gujarati film festival made its debut which was a landmark move in this field which now continues to grow.