Bollywood Blues!

Dialoguebaazi (flair for dialogues) is the backbone of Bollywood’s flamboyant personality. Right from bombastic and florid to pedestrian and monosyllabic, it’s all about saying the right words at the right time.

From dances around trees to scantily clad women gyrating to tuneless music in nightclubs, In Bollywood, we have it all. It is one of the largest film production centres in the world. So the question of the reach and success of bollywood is, lets face it, pointless. The real question that remains to be answered is – “Are we inflluenced by our movies?

It is extremely, excessively, drastically, and quite dangerously influential. We are a society that thrives on movies. We want to escape reality and get lost in the illogical, impractical, dreamy, and quite optimistic world of Bollywood.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the word “Bollywood?”. Undoubtedly our famous “item numbers”. Needless to say, every single movie of the present times has to have atleast one item song, no matter what the plot of the movie is, what the underlying theme is or what the emotions of the protagonist at that particular time and place int he movie is. There simply has to be an item song, or else the movie is in for a flop.

Is this what indian society thinks about its women? Do we encourage and tolerate such behaviour towards women? Do we appreciate and root for people who view women as obejcts? The idealistic answer would be “NO”, but thats just a lie isnt it? If we didnt sanction and galvanise to such songs, who did?

Obviously, being exposed to such kind of movies over a period of time has its adverse affects on the audience. We begin to believe that a single punch dialogue will get us out of tricky situations, that a guy we just met will turn out to be our soulmate, that stalking a girl and insulting her will actually proove fruitful, that all politicians are bad, that women cry for every single thing, that complete strangers will help us, that courage is the only thing required to face any number of opponents, and so on and so forth. Seriously! We are so absorbed by the same stereotypical, run-of-the-mill romance in the movies that the industry has been spitting out for decades that we dont even realise the complete absurdity of it all. Do we honestly believe that suicide is the only escape? That people in real life actually appreciate a person who commits suicide ? That the government will stop functioning if a single person immensely dedicated to a social cause dies? Do we truly believe that good will always triumph over evil? That love will conquer all?.

We have this flair and and unmistakable love for melodrama. Just try to think of one movie that doesnt employ the formulaic ingredients of Bollywood such as star-crossed lovers and angry parents, love triangles, family ties, sacrifice, corrupt politicians, kidnappers, heroes who are able to fight off villains all by themselves, conniving villains, courtesans with hearts of gold, long-lost relatives and siblings separated by fate, dramatic reversals of fortune, and convenient coincidences and you’ll get your answer!

There are always a few exceptions. We do have great movies that have influenced millions of Indians, in the right sense. Parallel films like Neecha Nagar (1946), Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1956) and The World of Apu (1959), Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday (2007), Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan (2009), Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat (2010), Amit Dutta’s Sonchidi (2011), and the latest sensation Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus (2013) have indeed contributed immensely in elevating the stage of Bollywood from the depths of impracticality to the echleons of logic and practicality.

Amidst all the finger-pointing, and mud-slinging, little do we realise that we are the real perpetrators of this mess. If the movies that we term “Bad, Distracting and Misleading”, dont have any or very less audience, will the industry continue making such movies and releasing them? 

Why do we go to huge multiplexes, spending valuable time,money and energy to sit thruogh three hours of endless drama only to come out complaining that it isnt right for us? That it will have a negative influence on the audience? It is high time we realise that we will get all that we require only if we ask for it. Mere complaining and blaming will not do.

Reverting to my first question : Do movies influence us? Definitely not, We influence our movies!


13 thoughts on “Bollywood Blues!

  1. Hi fictionistasan, I live in the U.S. and am curious about the definition of “item number.” I’ve seen a few Bollywood movies, which are known here for their music, dance, and colorful costumes and sets. (Also their length–Americans rarely sit through 3 hours so most of our movies tend to be 90 min to 2 hours). From your post, it sounds like an “item number” is specifically related to stereotypes of women in some way?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know it is more Americanized, I did like “Slumdog Millionaire,” along with the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel… which has the leads from the first movie, but has more kharma in it and heart. The characters are so well acted. I will try to stay better in touch with your posts, I am one who only gets time at the library to blog, so it all depends on who is waiting for computers there. Thanks for liking my posts, my new friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why is the question of the reach and success of Bollywood pointless? Are you saying that nothing can be learned from it?

    Perhaps you can learn that continually supporting a movie style that dismays you is the wrong approach? Given that a movie is nothing without an audience, perhaps you can learn not to be part of that audience? Perhaps you can learn to be selective with the movies that you watch? Perhaps you will learn (sadly) that your views are in the minority?


      1. Well I thought that I did. You wrote in the 3rd person which generalizes a representation of yourself and others. I guess that your 3rd person represented the “vast majority” but excluded yourself? 🙂


  4. It’s is unfortunate to see such a narrow outlook of the Indian mindset. We live in a world that encourages man chauvinism, that tells men ‘don’t cry like girls, be strong’ instead of saying ‘don’t ever do anything that makes a girl cry.’ We live in a society that approves of disrespect to it’s women with Bollywood item numbers having lyrics of a song that go ‘main toh tanduri murg ho yaar, gatakle sayian alcohol se’ – Fevicol from Dabang. It’s a disease that we are all suffering from, when we dance to these numbers at night clubs and parties. Once, while in college, I become a ‘party pooper’ and was called all sorts of names for not letting them play and dance to Honey Singh’s ‘Balatkari’.

    Your article is very well expressed. I hope that more people realise they need to disapprove elements that encourage criminals to comity such grotesque crimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanku 🙂 I appreciate it 🙂 as you can see even here, there are people with no knowledge of the indian society who feel the need to express their contorted views! 🙂 anyways…hope is eternal 🙂


    1. The usage of “we” is collective. Obviously it includes everyone. But maybe ‘we’ are digressing from the topic!
      This is my point of view about the society I’m familiar with. 🙂 I guess the question that remains to be asked is : are you as familiar with it as I am? 🙂


      1. You’re a “smart” lady so you know the answer to your question. Where we differ is that I have a broader context on which to ponder. India certainly has its problems, but humanity in general is surely the “big picture”. This is not intended to diminish your feelings about India in any way whatsoever but in the context of the world, it (India) is not that different. Two sad examples – 1. Sex sells and makes profits. Hollywood knew this years ago. 2. Here (Canada) sexual exploitation of young teen girls is on the increase. We seem to be “travelling in the same direction”, but on “different roads”! Keep up the good work. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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