Bollywood- the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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2013 was a very special year for cinema. Why? Bollywood completed 100 years. Bollywood is grand, stylish and larger than life. Bollywood does provide a healthy dose of entertainment to billions of people.However, today, I want to highlight the other side- the bad, the ugly, the senseless.

When Dadasaheb Phalke released his magnum opus, Raja Harishchandra on 13th May, 1913, little did he know that one day, this industry would reach such colossal dimensions. Also, it would have been impossible for him to guess that the same weapon would also lead to proliferation of buffoonery at such colossal dimensions.

Once upon a time, movies used to be all about highlighting the grandeur of India. High octane action, flawless performances, over the top melodrama, resplendent sets, uplifting music all added to the old-world charm. Movies used to be made by people who loved cinema to make people love cinema. Even the stupidest of clichés seemed enjoyable. Cinema was all about celebrating life, celebrating people, celebrating beauty.

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Who can forget the subtle beauty of Pather Panchaali? Who can ignore the magnificence of Mughal-e-Azam? Who doesn’t remember the nail-biting action of Sholay?

However, as they say, change is inevitable.

Acting gave way to stardom, direction gave way to filmmaking, quality gave way to technology and love for the audience gave way to love for the coveted 100 crore club. Now, a typical Bollywood movie is either a highly mutated, dismembered, limbless remake of a Hollywood movie (or many Hollywood movies) or just a collection of highly senseless scenes clubbed together to somehow make the audience giggle away to glory.

A stereotypical Bollywood movie is full of clichés.

LOVE- the most cringeworthy Bollywood cliché. Be it in Kashmir, Tokyo or London, love makes the filmi world go round. The best romantic songs are mostly imaginary sequences where the lead hero and heroines take off to foreign locales for a cosy duet. And if you didnt know yet,love  is the evergreen plot for any Bollywood potboiler.

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20-something-actresses comfortably romance the Shahrukhs, the Salmans and the Aamirs, while blissfully ignoring the fact that they are young enough to be their nieces.  Speaking of the Salmans and the Shahrukhs, they spread their arms, bend their knees and sing songs in Switzerland, while the Swiss do not bat an eyelash, let alone wonder why a weird middle-aged man is posing in the middle of a street.

The heroes float over water, jump from 20 story buildings, bash up 20-odd goons with ease. A bullet through the heart isn’t enough to kill our hero, but a mere punch from the protagonist is enough to knock the villain out like a light for the next 24 hours.

Unless the hero is a part of the police force, the police will always be depicted as useless. They arrive at the crime scene only after the hero saves the day and then meekly listen to the hero issuing them instructions like he is the Godfather.

One thing that really irks me about Bollywood is that people are either portrayed as saccharine sweet- I mean courtesans with hearts of gold, really?- or as supremely evil, complete with the villainous laughter- muhahahaha. It is highly impractical, considering the fact that all individuals have shades of grey. Nobody can be purely white or purely black. This is extremely misleading, especially to young children.

One thing I really despise is how Bollywood unknowingly promotes objectification of women.Actresses are automatically assumed to be eye candy. They are present in movies to pout, wear pretty chiffon saries and dance at beautiful foreign locales. Author backed roles for women, though rare, are present, but those movies hardly taste success.

Item numbers- the new fad of attracting cinema goers. Directors somehow think that adding a tacky, over the top item number with scantily clad women mechanically gyrating will somehow increase footfalls to the theatre. However, what it really does is makes us regular audience cringe in horror and embarrassment while making an otherwise family-friendly movie into one unfit for children.

Where is the originality?where is the creativity? most importantly, where is the love for cinema? Highly cliché plots, lack of novelty and actors sleepwalking through their roles is what defines your average commercial movie. talent is compromised for pretty faces, plotlines are compromised for commercial value. Established actors take it for granted that their name will make viewers flock to the theatres. And that is true, people do rush to theatres to watch their favourite star, but return severely disappointed. isn’t that cheating? Isnt that betrayal of trust?

However, no matter how grey and dull it may seem, every cloud has a silver lining. There are filmmakers like Farhan Akhtar, Shimit Amin, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra who try with all their hearts to instill quality and realism back into movies, hence restoring the true essence of cinema.

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No matter how much we curse our Bollywood, we cannot deny the fact that it makes us laugh, it makes us cry, it makes us sing, it makes us dance, and most importantly, it makes us believe in happily ever afters.

“When I make a film I’m always in reality among the trees, and among the people like yourselves. There’s no symbolic or conventional filter between me and reality as there is in literature. The cinema is an explosion of my love for reality.” – Pier Paolo Pasolini

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