Cricket and Bollywood are two big things that drive India. I have seen most of the Bollywood movies made right from the 1950s to 2005. It didn’t matter to me if the movie was a flop or hit, I watched it either way. The world of cinema has always mesmerized me. Introduction to Hollywood and world cinema made me realize the depth, flamboyance, and beauty of this art form in a true sense.
Born in a middle-class family, brought up in small villages and towns, lack of understanding of English – I belonged to the majority of Indian population who do not know movies like Matrix, Children of Heaven, Schindler’s List or Elling are being made. Would I have liked or grasped if something like that was shown to me in Hindi? Of course yes!
Getting work in Bollywood if you have some association is a problem with the industry. It is shame to the Indian art and artists to see movies like ‘Desi Boyz’ getting produced just because of connection. The ugly inbreeding of talent leads to creative bankruptcy. Hopefully, movies like ‘Vicky Donor’ are setting a good example. If nepotism continues we will have to settle for the mediocre actors, we will never find the next batch of Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Sridevi, Juhi or Madhuri Dixit.
‘Keep your brains at home and then watch the movie’, ‘this movie is made for the masses and not the classes’ are the taglines by many Bollywood filmmakers. I don’t understand how to do that. Are they implying they kept their brains at home while making the movie?
Being part of an unknown world that someone has weaved with their vast imagination is fascinating. As a storyteller what is needed is the conviction with which they tell a story. They could be showing something completely illogical, unfathomable, unrealistic; it doesn’t matter as long as the audience is convinced by the concept so much so that for the duration of the film they find it the reality (e.g. ‘Lucia’ – a Malayalam film). As a viewer a lot of Bollywood films leave me unconvinced, an example would be ‘My name is Khan’.
No strong storyline is a problem with many films, a look at ‘Kahaani’ would be a good idea for the makers.
As a woman, I feel embarrassed to see the scarcity of clothes in movies and find the item numbers derogatory for the womankind. I have never known women who wear skimpy vulgar clothes and dance around a thousand drunk men on some item numbers, have you? Maybe the filmmakers have their mothers, sisters, wives working in this kind of a business, how else would one fathom to show women in such light?
Women characters appear in four categories in Bollywood movies – one is the vulgar character mentioned above, second is the subservient character – an example would be Jaya Bhaduri’s character in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham – a pativrata nari – the one who doesn’t have her own mind but follows the husband blindly. The third is a damsel in distress – for example, Juhi Chawla in movie Darr, how many of you ladies have had a stalker before? I bet most of you will raise your hand. Stalkers are just bunch of weird creepy people who are very weak to approach the lady in a dignified manner, they are too scared to get rejected, so how weak are you if you can not confront a weak stalker? Juhi’s stalker was an extreme case, but if you notice then all she does is screams… without springing into action even once. And the fourth category is the motherly, caring, nurturing, sacrificing goddesses. Rajshris always show women in this light – look at the main female character in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun – a medical student dancing around the whole time… when does she study? When does she work on her career? And when her sister dies she is ready to get married to her brother in law – who also is her lover’s brother – I mean WTF!
The women that at least I have seen around me are Pikus and Bareily ki Barfis. They are bold and I mean they are not roaming around in bikinis, but they are courageous, ambitious, independent, and modern.
I fail to understand the impact of certain ‘stars’ on the junta. Do they really like them or they are not getting anything better? Why do they copy Hollywood movies? Why not just dub the original and release the masterpieces? A new quandary that has hit Bollywood is making remakes of old Hindi films. Why would someone want to remake the classic ‘Umrao Jaan’? What a blasphemy! Where are filmmakers like Shyam Benegal? Where is originality? I hope things improve and we get to watch great cinema in this lifetime.
I might watch movies in 100 other languages but the kind of instant cultural and emotional connection that I feel with Bollywood is unequaled. I long to see the colors, songs, and beatific dances, it gives Bollywood a unique flavor. I complain about the senseless stories; Bollywood stars, their overacting all the time but ironically on a rainy, sick, lonely, depressing day a dose of ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ is what I yearn for the most, it cheers me up, makes me feel nostalgic. There is no denying, I am a Bollywood child and hopefully, it will be more nurturing 🙂