Tollywood is surely changing for better and has taken a number of bold steps forward in that direction. It is all set to replicate the production quality of Bollywood and the look and feel of an international project. Tollywood is no more a play ground limited to the actors of Bengal; it is opening up to all from Bollywood stars and A-grade actors to even international models! The overhauling change that has taken place in Tollywood is far more substantial than any superficial modification. Today Tollywood is open to not only Aishwarya in her Binodini act in Chokher Bali but also to Bengali directors like Anjan Dutt and Rituparno Ghosh who are coming out with films in languages other than Bengali. The latest magic potion found by Tollywood to attract the viewers is a new breed of truly crossover films.
Anjan Dutts The Bong Connection a tribute to the non-resident Bengalis was Tollywoods first experience with a crossover theme. The film produced by Joy Ganguly of Moxile Entertainment, was shot in Kolkata and Houston. The film starred Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Raima Sen and Shayan Munshi in the lead roles.
But there are good number films which did crossover between Bollywood and Tollywood. One such film from recent past is Raja Sens Desh in which the protagonists are Abhishek Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan the mother-son duo of the Bollywoods first family.
Most of Rituparno Ghoshs films in the last five years showcased at least one Bollywood star. In 2003 his Chokher Bali starred Aishwarya Rai, while his 2005 movie Antarmahal starred two Bollywood actors Jackie Shroff and Abhishek Bachchan with a fresh new face Soha Ali Khan who sis debut in Anjan Dutts Eti Srikanta. His 2003 thriller Subho Mahurat has Rakhee Gulzar and Sharmila Tagore in the lead. His recently released Khela starred Manisha Koirala opposite Prosenjit.
Raincoat (2004) was the first Hindi film made by Rituparno Ghosh. It starred Ajay Devgan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead. The happened The Last Lear (2008) with Amitabh Bachchan playing the role of an actor in his first English film. The film also starred other Bollywood actors like Arjun Rampal, Preity Zinta, and Shefali Shah. His upcoming projects have a bunch of Bollywood actors too. Sunglass will be released as a bilingual film. The Hindi version stars R. Madhavan and Konkona Sen Sharma while the Bengali version stars Tota Roy Choudhury opposite Konkona. Naseeruddin Shah and Jaya Bachchan are also part of the film.
In his Sob Choritro Kalponik Bollywoods darling Bipasha Basu is playing the role of an NRI who comes to Kolkata after her husbands (Prasenjit) death and makes friendship with a photographer (Jisshu Sengupta).
Next comes Anjan Dutt whose English film Bow Barracks Forever cast Lillette Dubey and Neha Dubey and multiplex movie The Bong Connection starred Shayan Munshi with other Tollywood actors. He has finished his new Hindi film BBD featuring Naseeruddin Shah, Kay Kay Menon, Jimmy Shergil, Sandhya Mridul and Sonali Kulkarni.
Aniruddha Raychowdhury who made a name of himself by his debut film Anuranan (which initially hits the news as a film shot in the U.K) starring Rahul Bose, Raima Sen, Rajat Kapoor and Rituparna Sengupta, also showcases a good number of Bollywood stars in his second film Antaheen including Sharmila Tagore and Rahul Bose.
Arindam Nandys Hindi film Via Darjeeling starring refined actors like Sonali Kulkarni, Kay Kay Menon, Parvin Dabbas, Vinay Pathak, Simmone Singh, Rajat Kapoor, Prashant Narayan and Sandhya Mridul was a crossover film. So was Gautam Ghoshs Yatra starring Nana Patekar, Rekha and Deepti Naval in the lead.
Anjan Dass National Award winning Bengali film Faltu starred Yash Pathak and Manjari Phandis, the same cast who debuted in the hindi film Rok Sako To Rok Lo.
Some films are even attracting international actors. Aparna Sens The Japanese Wife starred a Japanese actress along with Rahul Bose and Raima Sen. Another upcoming film Arin Pals 10:10 cast German model Claudia Cisela. The Bengali films are going abroad for shooting too. After Anuranan and Bong Connection, Piyalir Password starring Rituparna Sengupta and Rupa Ganguly, Sabyasachi Chakraborty was shot in the U.S.
From the directors of Hindi films, Yuva was in a sense, a crossover film. Most of the shooting for the film took place in Kolkata. The Howrah Bridge and the Presidency College was captured in the camera and the City of Joy was in the background of the story. The film starred Ajay Devgan, Esha Deol, Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Vivek Oberoi and Kareena Kapoor. Pradeep Sarkars Parineeta was another such film, shot extensively in Kolkata. All the lead actors Sanjay Dutt, Vidya Balan, Raima Sen (only except Saif Ali Khan) were shown eating phuchkas in front of the Victoria Memorial in one the scenes from the films. Another English film shot in Kolkata Love Songs Yesterday And Tomorrow starred Jaya Bachchan, Sahana Goswami, June Maliya and others. Kolkata has been the shooting locate for many international projects too. It is the shooting locate for the first film of Saifs home production starring Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone too. No wonder such a sweep of interesting changes in the industry will provide it with a new breathing space and will stop it from being stagnated. Tollywood is sure to take off with such a great exposures and openings.