Gujarati cinema is still in a nascent stage, says ‘Jhamkudi’ actor Viraj Ghelani

Mumbai, June 15 (IANS): Content creator and actor Viraj Ghelani, who made his film debut with the recently released Gujarati film ‘Jhamkudi’, has shared insights on why Gujarati cinema doesn’t command a huge following unlike other regional film industries.

In an interview with IANS, Virj discussed Gujarati theatre. He said: “It's rich, vibrant, and deeply rooted in our culture.”

Gujarati theatre forms a huge part of India's theatre culture. Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali theatre are practically the pillars of India’s theatre ecosystem. Gujarat is one of the richest states in the country with many investments. Then why is the size of the audience very limited for Gujarati cinema?

Viraj told IANS: “When it comes to Gujarati cinema, there are a few factors at play. For starters, it's about perception and evolution. Telugu cinema, for example, has managed to create a niche and then exploded with larger-than-life storytelling, big budgets, and a very loyal fanbase. Gujarati cinema, on the other hand, is still in its nascent stage of this kind of evolution.”

He also pointed to the system of distribution and marketing in Gujarati cinema: “Telugu cinema has cracked the code on how to market their films not just in India but globally. We need to learn from that playbook and amplify our reach.”

The actor feels that it's also about content. “We have incredible stories, but we need to experiment more with genres and storytelling styles to attract a broader audience. It's happening, slowly but surely, and I'm optimistic. My debut film is a step in that direction, and I hope it can contribute to this shift. Gujarat is rich in culture and stories, and it's only a matter of time until Gujarati cinema finds its way to a larger audience,” he said.

Cinema imbibes talents from all media. While earlier in the day, it introduced talents from theatre, it went on to bring many actors from television. Shah Rukh Khan is the biggest example.

Today, content creators are becoming a part of cinema introducing fresh ideas and stories. Since he is a content creator and is aware of the trends and the analytics, how does the road ahead look for the creator community in his opinion?

He told IANS: “The transition from content creation to cinema is a fascinating evolution. As a content creator, I've had the privilege to understand and respond to audience preferences in real-time, which is a huge advantage. For the creator community, the road ahead is incredibly promising.”

Viraj said that the beauty of digital media is that it allows us to experiment with different formats, styles, and narratives, all while getting instant feedback from our viewers.

He continued: “We're in a unique position where we can bring fresh perspectives and innovative storytelling to the film industry. Our deep connection with our audience helps us craft stories that resonate on a personal level, and that’s powerful.”

“I believe the future will see even more creators stepping into cinema, breaking traditional moulds, and introducing diverse, authentic voices. It’s an exciting time where boundaries between different forms of media are blurring, leading to more creative and impactful storytelling. Personally, I'm thrilled to be part of this movement and can't wait to see how we continue to shape the cinematic landscape,” he added.

‘Jhamkudi’ is inspired by folklore. India is incredibly diverse, with a rich tapestry of cultures, traditions, and religions, and epic like the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

When asked if content inspired by folklore is a safe outlet, he said: “These stories have always brought people together, helping us bond over festivals and shared heritage. When I chose to be part of this film, it was because the story delivers a very strong message with relevance and creativity.”

“This made it feel safe for me to dive into. As for the audience, it's hard to generalise because everyone has different opinions. However, I believe that when fiction is used to tell a story—whether it's purely for entertainment or to convey a deeper message—it generally resonates well. That's what the movie industry has been doing all along, and I trust that this film will also find its place in people's hearts,” he added.


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