There’s been a burst of reaction videos on YouTube for Indian cinema. However the reactions are sometimes out of context. Not their fault but ignorance plays a big part along with good Indian cinema being overshadowed by the regular commercial song ‘n dance sequences.
So this insight is for some of those YouTube folks who react to Indian cinema loosely known as Bollywood!
Sometimes when people logically question a movie and find gaping loopholes they are missing the point. Here’s why. There is a phrase “Paisa Vasool” a.k.a return of investment. This forms the basis of most Indian movies, well to be honest all businesses) and is prime time on every producers mind. It’s like saying- Art can wait. Let’s figure out how we can make money off this script!
In India watching movies is a major activity, preferably with the family. So the producers see sense in making movie which appeases all audiences or at least has something in it for most of them.
As a result you see a little bit of this and a little bit of that, comedy, drama, action, song ‘n dance whatever keeps the audiences come back for more. This has an impact on the length of the movies. Because there is a lot of this and that which needs to be included. And so you have an end product which is like a dumpling with multiple ingredients in the mix.
Yet there are movies like SLB’s Black, Taare Zameen Par, Pink, Talvar, October, to name a few random ones, which have strong content with a single no-nonsense script.So when you react to such videos bear in mind that when reviewing a typical commercial flick like WAR – you don’t use logic and rationale as yardsticks. You use Entertainment quotient as a yardstick. Maza aaya ki nahi, paisa vasool hua ki nahi?(did you have fun and did you get your money’s worth?)
Yet when you review something like Article 15, Raid , Black Friday, then have a different sensibility to judge those movies.
Then there is the third kind : mainstream strong content yet commercially successful. Think of 3 idiots, PK, Dangal, Andhadhun, Stree etc.
A special mention to short films on you tube – the likes of Chutney, Juice, Hungry, Ahalya are briliant in both content and delivery, succinct in presentation and deserve a much larger recognition than they have today.
So here’s some background to Indian movies over the years. You can loosely bracket them from 40’s to the 60’s, 60’s to the 80’s , 80’s to the 2000, 2000-2010, and finally 2010 – till date.
- 40′-60’s -mostly black n white , socially relevant, love stories, family drama’ dotted the screens. Musicals, with strong content, fine tuning and subtlety evident in the tenderness of romance and even say action. Think of Waheeda Rahman in Chaudhvin ka Chand or Madhubala in Mr and Mrs 55, are some examples.
- 60’s- 80’s was the time colors exploded on to the scene and filmmakers started to focus more the visual appeal and presentation of their content. The protagonists were bolder than their 40’s and 50’s counterparts. Think of Shammi Kappor in Junglee or Teesri Manzil, were epic hits. Rajesh Khanna ruled the romantic nest with blockbusters like Aradhana,Kati Patang. SD Burman ( RD’s father) the true genius composed some of the most memorable numbers, hummed till date.
- But the game changer was the 70’s with the Advent of a certain gentleman Mr Amitabh Bachchan. A modern day expression would be – he broke the internet. He introduced the angry young man image to the audiences who by then had enough of sad love stories . It also coincided with the changing India, a modern India was beginning to emerge from the post-independence struggle. Mr.Bachchan’s movies touched a chord with people and gave a voice to the dormant suppression or maybe the roles were just written too darn well. This payback mode catapulted Mr Bachchan to cult status not seen before. The phase between 1973-1983 – all stars aligned for him. The mastermind behind his success were the writers Mr.Salim Khan ( Salman Khan’s father), and Mr. Javed Akhtar Farhan and Zoya’s father. They belted out epic scripts like the trinity of Deewar, Trishul and Kala Pathar and many more.
- Cut to the 80’s era. The movie going public declined and the filmmakers were in a quandary on how to attract more crowds, and more importantly newer crowds. This where the the quality of the movies and their content dropped to an all time low. With low quality made for masses, dumbed down versions of rehashed content appeared time and again on the screen.
- There were a few good movies every now and then, think of Arjun( Sunny Deol ) , Ek Duje Ke Liye, Love Story, Hero during the 80’s and Aamir Khan’s QSQT and Salmans Maine Pyar Kiya came around late 80’s and early 90’s respectively. The balance was mostly an over the top affair. That too got a boost from the number 1 series of movies, boosted by Govinda’s impeccable comic timing and pelvic thrusts.
- Post the 2000’s the country started to modernize technologically, and actors began investing in content and presentation far more than what they ever did before. Aamir Khan raced away with Lagaan , Dil Chata Hai, or Shahrukhs Swades were very different from the usual affair.
- Then with the explosion of internet, breaking bandwidth barriers, the audience were now exposed to more Hollywood content than before, they were now viewing foreign content more frequently than before. This was accentuated with the advent of Netflix and Prime where ease of censor restrictions the filmmakers were able to express more.
So In conclusion, to review Indian movies bear in mind that one would need to wear multiple hats. The paisa vasool hat, the strong content hat and the in between hat which has a bit of both. Now go back and re-review some of the reactions you have done in the past and comment if it has changed your point of view. That said, I m just movie buff, don’t claim to be a film critic or analyst , so these are just personal views, not intended to offend anybody. Needless to say there are so many movies which need a mention, just want to say the examples above are merely an illustration and not the ultimate list of movies to benchmark. Hopefully some of this resonates with you as well. So until next time. Be woke, wise and wobbly!