The evolution of Bollywood

Bollywood echoes music, dance, color, happiness and a mirage of several hyperbolic emotions. People abroad often see Bollywood as over-expressive and loud unlike their subtle and less glossy movies. But isn’t that what exactly represents Bollywood. It’s over the top costumes, the jazzy make-up, the songs amidst a sad scene or a frolicking one, the dance steps that are an embodiment of munni’s thumkas and sheila’s matkas. This is Bollywood. This is a culture evolved from a tradition. A form of art built with the hard work and collaborative inputs of so many individuals each of them who will be a part of this invention capable of mesmerizing people through its bling.

Bollywood has evolved over the decades. From the black and white silent movies to the color movies shot in high definition cameras. Movies then had to be interpreted through its simplicity while movies now are judged on the basis of lavish sets. Mughal-e-azam was one of the few old movies that spent lakhs on each and every intricate detail in the sets used in each scene and costumes worn by each actor despite of the fact hardly anything would be observed on the big screen. The director believed that it is these intricacies that despite the absence of color will bring light to the movie. And it surely did. One of the highest gross selling movies at the box office. The mindset of a few directors remains the same even today. They believe in investing crores in sets but fail to build a good script unlike the olden days. Having watched Saawariya on the big screen were the three hours of my life I wish to have back.

So what has changed? Well the essence of Bollywood is still intact since none of the story tellers have deflected towards western cinema in the real sense. However most of the things required to support this tender essence have changed. With the dawn of commercialization, actors read a script with the sub-conscience notion of how much will they be paid for it. It is not the story that matters to most of them. It is not the opportunity that they get to use the platform to change or influence the mindset of people that matters. It is merely the money. Fortunately there are still a few good film makers and actors who only wish to work if they have an inspiring character to play even if this choice keeps them unemployed for a few months or even years. And how few are these actors that choose to bid the glamour goodbye and bring about a revolution in the thinking of the spectators.

Another thing that has changed in addition to the approach of actors towards a script is the quality of scripts. The actors I feel are sometimes persuaded to choose a script that is high paying than a script that may be sensible since there are directors making these illogical scripts in the first place. And as rightly said, Bollywood is rich, these are the directors who prefer placing a great market price for the actors. And it is the directors from small towns who are usually the underdogs in this huge callous façade. On one hand there are movies like Rang de Basanti and Udaan that give you the chills when you get out of a movie hall and you are driven with renewed vigor and grit and on the other hand there are movies like Agent Vinod and Tees Maar Khan that make you wonder the capability of the directors that have given masterpieces before.

And then there are some movies these days that are only targeted towards having a music cd that can save the ill written, unfinished script to be noticed amidst the gaga and hype over the item numbers and songs. I was a 90’s kid and I still remember the rainy days in Mumbai, we used to tune in to our radios or choose one of our favorite cassettes out of the giant collection and play it on our walkmans. Swaying to the melodious beats of pop songs was a type of music today’s generation will never experience. Those albums released by solo established singers were soothing to the ear. The lyrics of the songs made far more sense than the songs today. Seriously I could never imagine “fevicol se” could be the title of any song. With the songs comes the dancing and how can I not emphasize the completely obnoxious steps our choreographers have been coming up with lately. Dance is one of the most beautiful forms of art I believe and seeing an entire song filmed on belt movements in Dabaang or even more hilarious bicep movements in Ready is just an example of showing the world the combination of drama, music and dance going wrong.

However the most important change in consideration with the change in the above factors is the change in the mentality of the people. The masses seem to like movies that are pointless but entertaining. People prefer to go watch a movie after a long day at work so they can just laugh at the silly jokes or marvel at the stunts being performed. Most of them don’t wish to watch a movie like Inception as compared to a no-brainer like Krissh. So overall Bollywood has not really changed, it has just transformed its meaning. It has transformed its representation and most importantly it has transformed the notion of entertainment.

 Bollywood has its highs and lows. So which section of society do you belong to? The one who likes Three Idiots or the one who helped Chennai Express surpass its 200 crore record? The choice is ours. One thing that will always remain the same throughout the years is that no one will judge us for belonging to either section.

Damini Naidu

technology enthusiast, trained bharatnatyam dancer, past-time philosophical writer, movie buff

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