100 Years of Hindi Cinema: OMG Bollywood, What is Going on???

Bollywood Montage (Credits Listed Below)

Just recently I read a comment where someone had described Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus, 2010’s Guzaarish as a dud…totally ignoring fact that the film was critically acclaimed around the world not just in India, sits as a special selection in the Oscar™ library (Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences) did average box office business and was heavily nominated during award season. It is sad that we have come to a day in Hindi Cinema where artistic integrity takes a back seat to triviality, insipid mindless banality and numbers. Success is now measured only in numbers or which filmy fraternity you belong to.

Take for instance the Student of the year (SOTY) kids all deliriously ecstatic (who wouldn’t be right?) that they are getting launched on the Dharma Productions™ platform by respected director Karan Johar or as I like to call him KJO. What happened to the days when filmy kids tried to hide the fact that they were filmy and tried to get accepted on their own merit? Oh! Oops it has probably never happened in Bollywood. In Hollywood on the other hand, Nicolas Cage hid the fact that he’s a COPPOLA just to prove himself as an actor, Angelina Jolie despite growing up in the spotlight made a name for herself and did not hide behind her VOIGHT heritage, I remember watching Bryce Dallas Howard cringe at the fact that people might think she was riding the coattails of her famous father Ron when she was about to debut in 2004’s The Village.  To the credit of the three debutantes of the upcoming SOTY, they might be cringing too but it is hard to notice any discomfort amid their endless parade of designer clothing, magazine covers, global promotional tours and shameless plugs at every single event in B-town. Look at Sonakshi Sinha (respect to her for representing curvy girls but) she satisfies a prototype that according to Bollywood tradition will last her only until she is around 30. Thus far, she acts the same way in every film, dances around to catchy tunes, is the love interest of a much older guy until they find someone younger than her or she gets married (which ever happens first) then kick her to the curb like all others who have come before her. Why does it have to be that way?  Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for the success of anything that anyone has worked hard for but just because a foolish formula works doesn’t mean it should be implemented all the time.

In Bollywood, critically acclaimed actors like Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Amanda Seyfried & Thandie Newton would not be famous regardless of their talent because according to the unspoken industry rule, they don’t have the numbers to back them up. They would need to command the box office with every single film like Reese Witherspoon, Milla Jovovich, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Liam Neeson, George Clooney & the Twilight Kids to be considered relevant. Amrita Rao, Ayeesha Takia, Bhumika Chawla, Esha Deol all talented young females but where are they now? No more career prospects because they are box-office challenged? I love Shahid Kapoor but he has had a string of flops yet he’s still relevant and people are still willing to take a chance on him. Sexism anyone? I’m just saying.

Hindi Cinema marks 100 years this year with very little progress to show for it. In a recent interview with the Hindustan Times, yesteryear actress Waheeda Rehman described the current era of Bollywood as the golden era. Say what? The industry currently copies 95% of the content that comes out of Hollywood or other film industries, hires actresses based on beauty and their figures, firang or filmy family not talent, cast the men in ridiculously unbelievable roles yet we the audience are expected to sit and eat it all up and worship them no matter what. Members of the media control the industry with no accountability for what is said on television, radio or what goes to print. Another day, you can expect another useless rumour to pop up, unsubstantiated yet held as doctrine. Actresses are belittled and defamed at the drop of a dime and accused of everything under the sun, with no respect for privacy or show of decency. Pot-shots are the order of the day and the lay of the land, the more you dish them out the more you can get your name in print and your PR machinery into overdrive. Twitter war? No problem. KJO vs RGV (egos r us dot com), SRK vs Sallu bhai (I am the king Khan r us dot com), PC vs Bebo (pot shots r us dot com) Big Business vs Small Business (100+ crore business rules r us dot com) and let us not forget the newly minted phrase “THE 100 CRORE HEROINE”. Should I even bother to touch on the current item number craze and the strings of foreign dancers featured in every music video these days? And this is the golden era?

At this point, we just have to thank God for well made independent films with strong messages and the stellar performers behind them, thank God for the ever-green era where actors male and female just showed up and acted, no fight no fuss, no paparazzi no entourage, no glitz no glamour, no drama except on-screen. Thank God also for the great actors who respect their craft and refuse to cheapen it by acting in mindless films just for box office acclaim and thank God for the film-makers who support the dream behind making a good film (be it LAGAAN big or UDAAN small) and who are not among the ones who are just throwing garbage out there hoping  a mass of seemingly unintelligent people would go and spend money on it and make it a blockbuster so they can brag about their accomplishments and make the little people seem even smaller.


Image Credits:

I want Fakht You – Joker (UTV Pictures)
Don’t Fuff My Mind – Kismat Love Paisa Dilli (Invicible Entertainment Productions)
Po Po – Son of Sardar (T-Series)
Taan Ke Seena – Bhindi Bazaar Inc. (Picture Thoughts Productions)
Hosanna – Ekk Deewana tha (AR Rahman, Sony Music)
Radha on the dance floor – SOTY (Dharma Productions)
Kunda Khol – Chakravyuh (Prakash Jha/Eros Entertainment)
Neeyat Kharab Hai – Teen Patti (T Series)
Laila – Tezz (Venus)
Mashallah – Ek tha tiger (YRF)
Abhi Abhi – Jism II (T Series)



8 thoughts on “100 Years of Hindi Cinema: OMG Bollywood, What is Going on???

  1. Totally agree with all that you said and you forgot to mention about the camps in bollywood.The industry is controlled by very few powerful stars and the average stars who suck up to them get all the attention and benifits.Bollywood is no more a place for strong-headed,self-dependent actors esp female actors

    • Thanks Vivek, I will write about the b-town camps in another essay, this one was sparked (believe it or not) by the mind-numbing “po po” video from the upcoming ‘Son of Saardar’ film as seen in the video I posted above. Bollywood is just getting worse by the day.

  2. Well written bt what’s d use…no one from industry cares bt the audience will just read, praise n move on to watch those duds….we are d ones to b blamed…”yeh wahi dikhate hain jo hum dekhna jaante hai”..even dese 100 cr ppl know dat dey have nothing in dere shit except for an aged actor nd new virgin heroine just brought from a plastic doll shop…promote d film…promotion cost more dan film’s budget….nd v lyk obedient fans run to c first day first show as if dese stars wil award us for dat…nd on top of it v praise d movie n our fav (knowing film is a complete shit) as if dys d only film dat can touch oscars height….nd ya last bt not d least v worship dese trade pundits as if dey r god givibg all d true judgement f d films..cumon ppl dese r also just another human species(actually dey r not)…opinions differ…

    • It’s sad Ankur but someone must speak the truth. I don’t care if no one in the industry cares about my opinion or bothers to read it as long as I have said what is on my mind, I am at peace. There will come a day when the novelty that Bollywood relies on will run out and none of the stupid formulas will work and everybody will be forced to return to the drawing board and do what they were supposed to be doing in the first place.

  3. Loved the post!!! I agree with you on many points. Firstly this 100 crore club is total bullsh*t. It is my individual opinion, but all those S.Indian remakes and ”entertaining” films are nothing but snoozefests (for me). I dont say i love bollywood, But i’m addicted to bollywood. There are certain films that appeal to me. But that doesnt mean i completely dislike massy films. But they are very few!

    Films like Barfi (lets not bring in plagiarism issues here), English Vinglish in the recent times worked both critically and commercially. Such films should work!

    And another imp thing i’d like to say is – Fan Wars! PR wars are plotted and planned smartly. But what follows is these fan wars. Ppl treat stars like God. If you are a fan of one particular star, you become an enemy of his/her contemporary (to be precise, rival). But why? Just because these stars, who need to survive in this dynamic industry and face severe cut-throat competiton, take pot-shots directly or indirectly on each other, their blind fans also do the same.

    I really want to say more on this topic, but for that, i have to directly use some ”names”. But i’m kinda scared, otherwise my twitter handle will have trolls! 😉

    • Thanks Rahul. I look as such people (who treat stars like gods) and laugh because these people (stars) are human beings just like us. The fan-war thing just baffles me to no end, it’s truly senseless. I don’t understand why I should feel like I can like one person and feel obligated to hate another person because I like the former. It’s mindless. I generally like everybody until someone gives me a reason not to like them and in saying that I mean the person in particular not some rumour monger coming to change my opinion, the star in particular would have to give me reason to dislike them. The current fan-wars regarding ‘Talaash’ and ‘Son of Saadar’ just stuns me because I don’t even know how to comment on it. I was watching the two recently songs released from each movie on YouTube and the way fans and anti-fans were going at each other in the comments section was just crazy. I like neither song but that doesn’t mean I hate or dislike the people in the picturisations. I just don’t understand the Khan-war or Khan-rivalry or whatever it’s called and I just don’t get why some fans feel like loving one person means hating all others. The stars themselves need to set better examples by not having cold-wars in the first place.

  4. Pingback: Farewell to the Esteemed Time-Keeper of Bollywood Romance – Yash Chopra (1932-2012) « Voiceswriter

  5. I think films that stand the test of time and go on to become classics are the real “hits”. Opening weekend figures will be forgotten but films and songs live on. Time will tell!

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