The below post first took birth as a comment by a SearchIndia.com blog reader szm on the Bachna Ae HaseenoÂ thread. To give it greater visibility, we are reproducing itÂ below as a separate post.
Dear Searchindia and all other bloggies
Refering to the latest “offering” from the YRF camp, namely BAH (actually should be “BLAH”), it is really hard to believe that this stalwart studio had brought us gems such as Veer Zara, Fanaa, Hum Tum, KANK, etc.
Notwithstanding, no other Bollywood studio has brought a well meaning, well deserved, original movie this year, leaving us die-hard movie fans with a bitter taste in our mouths, and sincerely wondering how can Bollywood be regarded as a reputable film industry when this year no hindi movie received commercial and critical acclaim.Â
Jodha Akbar, despite the hoopla, was a poor offering from an acclaimed Oscar nominated director, it was more the hype rather than content that caused people to go and see the movie.Â
When movies such as Singh is King, Welcome, Partner, Apne, Namaste London, etc. are hailed as box office success, then one must really question the standards by which Bollywood movies are judged.Â These movies are utter rubbish with absolutely no thought to content.Â These movies are only “successful” at the BO because some girl makes great eye candy and the hero is some over the top, melodramatic buffoon in costume.Â Â
Even The Last Lear was more like the last bore, because AB, Preity, Arjun, etc are not cut out to do English cinema.Â Once again, despite the hype and critical acclaim (from arty moviegoers)the movie failed to inspire.
Have the days of good Indian cinema gone completely?
Forthcoming movies, guaranteed, are just rip offs from Hollywood movies namely, Robot definite ripoff from Beowulf (going by the storyline); My name is Khan ripped from the pages of I am Sam, Blue a carbon copy of Into the Blue.Â
Are Indian filmakers stuck in some box or timewarp that they cannot come up with an original idea.Â
Do we blame the general population out there when they think that Indians are “mindless” sheep, blindly following each other? Their movies certainly add weight to this assumption if movies such as “Dhoom2, Singh is King, Hey Baby, Welcome, etc.” are considered box office hits.Â What does this say about the mentality of the Indian moviegoer?
I do agree that Hollywood has had its fair share of stinkers (past & present), but they have also produced a fair amount of well deserved hits, which has only served as more rip-off material for Indian filmakers.Â Their sad attempt at sci-fi & futuristic fantasy is abyssmal…everything imbalanced and over the top (Love Story 2050; Drona, etc (seen the stills..hardly inspiring).
Yet it is these actors that are hailed as “stars”…Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwariya Rai, Bipasa Basu, Ranbir Kapoor,etc. Is India so short on talent that these “actors” (i use the term loosely) are offered as the best that Bollywood has to offer.Â No wonder most of these stars can never make it big in hollywood becuase it would take a lot more than a last name, great body and pair of green eyes to make it to the A-list.Â
I am no snob, but believe me these “stars” will not even make it pass the first audition never mind a screen test.
The only reason why Ash is so sought after is becuase she has notoriety…had she not been beautiful she would never have survived on her “talent” alone.
A film critic recently noted that India has no place for a Michelle Pfeifer or Meryl Streep, namely talent is wasted. How true when actors such as Rani, Tabu, konkana, etc are regarded as fading stars becuase they are truly talented but cannot find decent material to showcase these talents.Â They are no longer brand ambassedors for products because their movies do not perform well at the box office.Â
Would Tabu fare well if she had donned the Katrina or Kareena style of acting. Or if Rani had done a Bipasha style role in Race of BAH..i doubt it. These actresses are talented artists who thankfully had not succumbed to accepting these mediocre roles.Â The Katrinas, Kareenas and Ash’s will always be in demand, for Bollywood is stuck in a rut of running around trees, shedding their clothes and glycerine tears, and gyrating their hips.Â
Is it any wonder that even their award shows are limited to “Bollywood blockbusters”, that IAFFA (supposedly the Indian version of the Oscars) only consider “bo blockbusters” being worthy of awards, that Kareena Kapoor could walk away with a Best Actress award for Jab we Met, Ash & Hrithik walks away for the Most Glamorous Couple, Priyanka Chopra wins an award for her contribution to cinema (what contribution is really beyond me), yet the true gems of Indian cinema is overlooked and thus remains hidden.Â What hope is there that these stars will ever come close to the talent of people such as Madhubala, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, etc.Â
Watching these old movies are so pleasurable and mesmerising that u are left wondering where did Bollywood go wrong….
– by szm
1. You write above: how can Bollywood be regarded as a reputable film industry when this year no Hindi movie received commercial and critical acclaim
Actually, it’s not that surprising because critical acclaim has very rarely accompanied Bollywood movies over several decades.
In its essence, Bollywood is two things – the triumph of quantity over quality and large-scale theft.
2. You write: Jodha Akbar, despite the hoopla, was a poor offering from an acclaimed Oscar nominted director, it was more the hype rather than content that caused people to go and see the movie.
Hype and its lesser cousin mindless hero-worship have been the twin banes of Indian cinema.
Again, this is not new but (as you suggest) the Hype Quotient lately has assumed alarming proportions because of the 1. Film web sites 2. Growth of TV channels 3. Populace needs constant titillation in this age.
Hype is not restricted to just Bollywood (Hindi) movies in India. On the eve of Tamil movie Sivaji’s release in June 2007, the Hype Meter went completely beserk.
Another weird thing with Bollywood & even Tamil movies is the obsession to film in foreign locales (Switzerland, London, U.S., Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Tokyo and now Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Namibia, South Africa and even Uzbekistan). We look at this phoren-obsession as a trick to mask the absence of a gripping story and bamboozle the vast numbers of Indian movie-goers for whom phoren is only a distant dream. This trend of filming in foreign locations started in the 1960s and has intensified lately.
3. You write: When movies such as Singh is King, Welcome, Partner, Apne, Namaste London, etc. is hailed as box office sucess, then one must really question the standards by which bollywood movies are judged. These movies are utter rubbish with absolutely no thought to content. These movies are only “successful” at the bo because some girl makes great eye candy and the hero is some over the top, melodramatic buffoon in costume.
Every single movie you list in the above sentence is in our view plain garbage and in some cases like Partner constitute plain theft of Hollywood movies.
But, and this is a very big but, the movies seem like they had a good run at the box office.
So, the questions are:
a). Whether a small section of the audience (in which category we include ourselves and presumably some readers of this blog as well) matter at all.
b). If numbers are the ultimate yardstick, who’s to say that the majority (who contribute to box office hits like Welcome, Partner, Namaste London) does not know more than a small whining minority.
4. You write: Are indian filmakers stuck in some box or timewarp that they cannot come up with an original idea.
Indian movie-makers are for the most risk averse and prefer to stick to the tried-tested-and-worked formula. We think this is becase of two reasons: 1. Lack of enough capital 2. Culture of the land. For instance, there are no great venture capital companies in India (like the U.S. VC firms Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Battery Ventures, Benchmark etc) despite a gazillion software companies in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune & Noida. Indian software companies are like our Bollywood movies….they do the same repetitive work with the only difference being size. Where are the innovative (read product) Indian software companies.
In A Short History of the Movies, Gerald Mast and Brude Kawin write about Bollywood that, “The pressure on the studios to provide film after entertaining film for a huge, uneducated audience has led to a consistent mediocrity, a devotion to formula and convention, and a fear of experimentation.”
5. You write: where did Bollywood go wrong
In the view of Bollywood producers, your question would be considered an elitist thought and a laughable notion because the crappy movies they make do bring in big money.
6. You write: What hope is their that these stars will ever come close to the talent of people such as Madhubala, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, etc
You left out Sanjeev Kumar & even Rajesh Khanna in a few movies…they were decent actors.
Hope is not completely lost by the greater-than-anticipated-success of films such as Johnny Gaddar, Manorama Six Feet Under (a lift of Chinatown) and Cheeni Kum.
There is no hope. Gaddaar(flop @ 4 crores) and Manorama(disaster @ 34 lakhs) were flops according to boxofficeindia.com.
The Gaddaar director has resorted to lip-syncing dance sequences with Aishwarya Rai in his next project.. a love story! so that is a pitiful situation.
Sad situation. 🙁
I don’t remember when I watched a Bollywood movie lately. It was so long as 5 years. With my friends, I watched a few movies whose names I did not bother to keep in my mind.
What put me off some Bollywood cinema is that they’re trying too much to imitate the western movies and its actors’ mannerisms and body languages. There are so many things these guys are trying hard to imitate. Even the story, screenplay, and the whole concepts in some cases excepting the love scenes and the song scenes. These two elements are the only originals they have, I believe.
My point is: if we were to watch these styles in a crappy presentation and become disturbed, why don’t we simply switch over to the originals and be satisfied? So, I stopped watching these copied western concepts and styles in a copy mode.
We know that nobody can copy Will Smith or Jim Carey or any of the Hollywood actors for that matter and satisfy themselves of having done a great job.
I am still watching Kolly stuff because of the love of my mother tongue (Tamil) unsatisfied most of the time. But, even then I have to think twice about watching a Kolly movie just for the sake of loving the language.
Elders always say that you have to give up many things to gain a few things.
You write: My point is: if we were to watch these styles in a crappy presentation and become disturbed, why don’t we simply switch over to the originals and be satisfied?
Bollywood still has huge numbers of fans in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore, Afghanistan, South Africa, Malaysia and the diaspora in Canada, U.S., UK, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
I miss MGR very much. He once told the young ones during his heydays “Thrudaathey,Paapa Thirudathey” (Do not steal).
But due to some unfortunate events, the same industry on which he was standing started to steal under his very toes that was doing some “Cha,Cha” and some “Twist and rock n roll” at a later period on Kollywood stage.
I like to felicitate the man by just saying this little bit to Kolly-Dude-Filmo-Bozos:
“Hey..vaayadi. Poaga vendum ododi. Hey…kalavaadi…nalladu sei poradi..
(Yo! big mouth..get lost. You mongrel thieves, try something better..)
So, are we back into Kamal’s cracko-philo…?
“Naalu peyrukku nalladu nadakum enna, kalawadurathu pawam illa” (For a noble cause, stealing is not a sin)
Dialogue from “Nayagan” movie.
I want to stop him for the sake of world cinema!
Watched awara recently……..was completely bowled over by raj kapoor’s genius…..wish our producers today come up with movies like that…
Awara has some lovely songs too.
Many years back, when we were in a cab in Cologne (Germany) our old Turkish driver started singing that song awara hoon once he realized we were from India. It was one of our memorable cab rides. Sometimes we notice Bollywood’s reach in some of the oddest places.
Here’s the Awara song/scene.
We watched Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp recently (if you live in the U.S., most public libraries have it), and quickly noticed the similarities in acting style between Chaplin and Raj Kapoor. Raj Kapoor was clearly a Chaplin fan.
Anyone wanting to see a good Bollywood movie can take my word and watch Rock On!.