When Bollywood meets Nollywood
Ramesh Babu Raparthy is an Indian filmmaker who knows the geography of Nigeria more than most Nigerians. This charismatic young filmmaker has worked on several Yoruba film productions, had a stint at the D'Banj's Koko Mansion Reality TV and the Jay Jay Okocha Show too. Currently, he is working with Lilian Bach on a Nollywood film to be shot majorly in Hyderabad, India.
“Tinapa is the film city of Nigeria,” he says. “I'm sure you don't know there.” Ramesh talks about the beautiful landscape where the so-called film city is built and the man-made beaches. He speaks passionately about Nigeria; a country he says has a lot to offer to the world. “I find it appalling when you get onto forums for expatriates and people are saying, 'Be careful in Nigeria. Nigerians are this and that.' I feel like shutting someone up. These are foreigners who come here and go to work from their homes and know nothing about the country they live in.”
Nollywood, he says, is not known to Indians. He is going to introduce it to Indians in India very soon. He has encountered a lot of Nigerians who can sing Hindi songs clearly and that amazes him. He has met Nigerians who are huge fans of Amitabh Bachchan and Dhamendra and these Nigerians follow the lives of these Bollywood stars, including Shah Rukh Khan. “I have a lot of plans,” he adds. “I'm in touch with some Nigerians who have close ties with India to present a show or carnival titled, Namaste Naija. It will feature good dances and choreography from Bollywood stars, costume workshops and scriptwriting workshops too.” More of cultural exchanges? “More than that,” he smiles. “It will afford Indians the opportunity to know the good side of Nigeria. It will show Indians that Nigeria is not the country we read about in the media. A lot of good stuff dey come out from Naija.”
For him, The Figurine by Kunle Afolayan is a movie that challenged his sensibility and he believes that Nigerian filmmakers can do better. “You have your story,” he says. “What you should do then is to engage a foreign company for collaboration and from there, your story which transcends the screen gets an international appeal.” This is exactly what most Nigerian productions lack, but Ramesh is ready to bring in that flavour.
He has wonderful ideas to help Nollywood and Bollywood come together. He's working on a Bollywood film too that will be entirely shot in Nigeria. His movie idea that will have Nigerian tourists in Bangkok sounds like a blockbuster already. For of course, the way he talks about the camera operation and handling, you know that Ramesh is a gem and is here to push the two countries forward.
Ramesh Babu Raparthy