What is it about Bollywood that inspires contempt and even worse, a sense of despair, in a wide section of people today? While cinema the world over is evolving each day, why is Bollywood still comfortable in its status as being unoriginal and repetitive? We could safely say that no other country in the world boasts of a film industry of the dynamic and size of Bollywood that attracts audience and fan following from across the globe. However, it is only rarely that Bollywood films find any takers in the international film fraternity. Our movies are mostly enjoyed for being light, mindless flicks with a generous dose of catchy tunes. Though our movies might have been received well in the relevant circles, Bollywood is usually associated with low grade, drab cinema.
Pick any popular movie of your choice. Chances are, it’s a shabby copy of a not so shabby western flick. Why this obsession with unoriginality, we may ask. Our film makers have taken to blatant plagiarism, with not even the slightest hint of acknowledgement. The funny part is, our ‘inspiration’ isn’t limited to Hollywood now. Film makers are now getting even more creative at copying and copy-pasting the story lines of films from a variety of countries. If that seems like too much work, they simply zero in on a south Indian flick. Now we can’t go wrong with that, can we? The fact that the audience is tired of watching unimaginative, predictable movies seems to have no real effect on the industry.
With a flood of movies like Mickey Virus, Besharam and Grand Masti, Bollywood isn’t exactly focusing on making meaningful, logical movies. Films like Taare Zameen Par are, sadly, an exception rather than the rule. The kind of movies our film industry likes churning out by the day are the ones that involve exotic locations, never ending dance sequences, ill timed songs and a lot of bling. This is not the era of sensible, meaningful cinema. These are the times of surprisingly inane ‘cinema’. Gone are the days (never to return, possibly) when story lines were logically consistent and made sense. Slowly and steadily, our movies are taking a departure from ‘meaning’ and ‘logic’. A certain section might be accused of devouring such movies, but have we exposed them to anything better? An increasing portion of the audience is demanding movies for the discerning viewer, a genre that seems to have been lost altogether.
Another of Bollywood’s great mystery is the ill timed and superfluous barrage of songs. To such an extent has the song culture pervaded our films that it is unimaginable for us to think of a movie devoid of song sequences. We politely brand such films as ‘art films’ or ‘documentaries’. While songs might sound and look great at certain points in certain movies, a mis-placement often interrupts the movie’s track, apart from serving as a major annoyance.
The fact that Bollywood holds great untapped potential enjoys wide consensus. However, let us not fall prey to the web of unoriginality and unwarranted inspiration. After all, life, sometimes, imitates art.