Gujarat farmers try their hands at film production

Filmy twist

Thanks to the skyrocketing land prices in south and central Gujarat, this new class of super-rich has not only acquired sports utility vehicles and gone on to live a fancy lifestyle, but also turned into film producers and in the process lifting up the Gujarati film industry.

In a star-struck nation, these farmers like nothing so much as the chance to enter the movie business, although the money involved is much less in comparison with the crores that go into the extravaganzas, churned out elsewhere, especially in Bollywood and Tollywod, here annually 35-40 films are released, and till previous year half of them were financed by the farmers.

Rambhai Bhimani, former president of the Gujarati Film Producers Association, an apex body of movie makers in the state, a farmer himself, has produced three films: “Dolo Mara Malak Ma,” (Sway in my land) “Hun Tun Ne Ramtudi” and (You, Me and Ramtudi) “Mara Man Chogada Dhola” (A Handsome man in my mind).

Bhimani has decided to step down from the post as he wants to increase his focus on quality film production and make at least two movies every year.  The election for the apex body’s  president is scheduled to be held later this year.

“About a decade ago, diamond merchants and traders of Surat had entered into the film-making business,” said Bhimani. Bhimani  owns about 15 acres of land in and around Ahmedabad, where prices have risen as much as six times since 2006.  He also has holdings in Deesa, about 140 km away from Ahmedabad, where he grows potatoes.

Most of the movies are shot on locations, distant from the big cities, hence the cost involved is also very low.The state government gives a Rs 5-lakh subsidy to a Gujarati film to promote the local industry.

A majority of the farmers or landowners who enter the business are not too well-educated and they get into it as a means of raising their social status and earning the respect of their fellow villagers.

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