My Own Private Bollywood | India

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Bollywood Quick Facts

  • India is home to regional industries making films in more than 20 languages, but Mumbai’s Hindi-speaking Bollywood is the biggest.
  • Bollywood produces over 1,000 films each year, twice as many than Hollywood.
  • Bollywood sells over 2.5 billion tickets every year, making it the largest film industry in the world, but revenues are a fraction of Hollywood’s.
  • India has fewer than 13,000 cinema screens compared with nearly 40,000 screens in the US.

Gautam Singh grew up in a remote village in the Indian state of Jharkhand. He was fascinated by the art of movies and wanted to become a filmmaker ever since a travelling cinema group passed through his isolated village when he was 10 years old.

The nearest movie theatre was 50km away from his village and there were no buses around, so Singh would skip school and walk almost a day to watch a film and then come back.

Like every aspiring Indian filmmaker before him, he eventually moved to Mumbai to try to make a name for himself. After sleeping in cramped rooms with seven other people and getting small gigs as a video editor, he finally decided that documentary filmmaking was his preferred style of storytelling.

However, the people of his village didn’t really consider documentary films to be “real films” because they were not run on the big screens. So after years of making documentaries, Singh decided to make a Bollywood-style movie that the people of his village would be able to see and be proud of.

The story he picked for his Bollywood film “Gaon” which means “The Village No More,” is one extremely close to his heart – a tale of the village he grew up in and its transformation.

Growing up, his hometown was cut off from the rest of the world and the villagers developed their own economic system and way of life.


I don’t think people are progressing. We may be more educated now but our thinking has regressed.

Laxmi Singh, Gautam’s father

People in his village used the barter system “where everybody did everything for everyone else. So the entire community will assemble three times a day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” explains Singh.

According to him, the evolution of modernity and increasing material wealth changed everything, especially the villagers’ relationships with one another.

Looking back at the changes in life, Gautam’s father, Laxmi, says, “I don’t think people are progressing. We may be more educated now but our thinking has regressed.”

While the spotlight of the film is on his village and its transformation, Singh also wants viewers to comprehend how much work, imagination, and art goes into the making of a typical Bollywood film.

Singh runs into problems during the shoot but the villagers and the crewmembers always pull through to finally deliver his masterpiece – a film that beautifully captures Bollywood’s colour, music, humour and diversity.

My Own Private Bollywood traces one filmmaker’s passionate dream to make a Bollywood movie that will be loved and accepted by the people from his home village of Asarhia.



Ever since he was a little boy, Gautam Singh’s dream was to make Bollywood films [Al Jazeera]



His feature film ‘Gaon’ or ‘The Village No More’ is inspired by the true story of his village in Jharkhand, India [Al Jazeera] 



Once an isolated community, villagers coexisted and relied on each other [Al Jazeera]



The villagers used the centuries-old barter system to exchange products [Al Jazeera] 



Village life began to change with money pouring in from government and private agencies [Al Jazeera]



According to Singh, the evolution of modernity changed everything [Al Jazeera]



Citizens disengaged from one another and limited interaction [Al Jazeera]



Other villages across India have faced a similar fate [Al Jazeera]



The film attempts to cover 200 years of India’s history in two hours of cinema [Al Jazeera]



The Bollywood-style film took five years to complete [Al Jazeera]



The typical Bollywood crew is often made up of well over 100 people on set. Nearly 200 cast, crew, and extras worked on Gaon [Al Jazeera]



Singh faced many challenges during the making of Gaon but villagers and crewmembers always pulled through to finally deliver a film that beautifully captures Bollywood’s colour, music, humour and diversity [Al Jazeera]

Source: Al Jazeera

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