When I ask a friend, family member, or even someone on the internet why it is that Bollywood, one of the biggest media & entertainment producers in the world, consistently churns out depthless, amateurish films in excess of a thousand year upon year, the mostly unconvincing explanations I receive in response are, Oh, Bollywood toh is just mindless fun.
Or We must leave our brains at home when we go to watch a Bollywood movie.
Or The average Bollywood movie-goer wants simple entertainment, he won’t be able to appreciate a thoughtful (?) movie.
And variations thereupon.
It is held that Bollywood is a developing industry, that filmmaking in Bollywood is not yet art for art’s sake, and that Bollywood movies are still purely business-oriented. (Business certainly is booming, however. In 2012 Hindi movies sold 2.6 billion tickets, as compared to Hollywood’s 1.36 billion.) This is why Bollywood directors, producers, financiers, what have you, all play safe and make their jobs easier by copying Hollywood, Tollywood, Korean films, and, most recently, real life (Seen in the ridiculously excessive amount of “biopics” being made.)
Krrish, 2006, is copied from Hollywood’s Paycheck (2003)
Rohit Shetty’s Singham (2011) is a copy of the 2010 Tamil film Singam.
Ek Villain (2014) is inspired by the 2010 Korean film I Saw The Devil.
Starting with Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013), based on Milkha Singh, a track athlete, there have been biographical films about cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, boxer Mary Kom, with a biopic about badminton player Saina Nehwal currently in the works.
This derivative nature of many Bollywood films can also be attributed to the fact that the movies they are copying have already been successful in other markets. The biopics made on celebrities, too, work on a similar principle- that movies on these individuals have entertainment value because the have already captured the public’s attention.
This is a fairly accurate assessment. Perhaps Bollywood is not yet ready to tell stories but to just make money. If so, the fans certainly do not seem to mind.
Another thing that has annoyed a few people is the hilariously blatant objectification of women in Bollywood films. It is amusing to see entire dance sequences that have women jumping about in skimpy clothes. They often come from nowhere and, along with most of the rest of the movie, leave you wondering Why did I just spend ₹500 to watch this?
But Bollywood is mindless fun.
Well, folks, a strip club too is mindless fun.
India According to Bollywood
Perfectly imperfect families, expensive cars, muscle-bound heroes, and NRIs are what we tend to see in Bollywood movies. This is because the real India cannot possibly pass for the fantasyland that Bollywood sells.
“Indian films have this obsession with hygienic clean spaces, even though the country’s not so clean. They’re either shot in the studios or shot in London, in America, in Switzerland – clean places. Everywhere except India.”
Hypocritical double-standards of critics and audiences run amok here. Here is what Pahlaj Nihalani, producer of Andaaz (1994), which features such songs as Khada hai, khada hai, khada hai and Lelo, lelo mera, said about censoring films which are, to Indian high culture’s delicate sensibilities, morally ambiguous-
“I don’t mind being called that (a conservative) if I have to serve the nation. You have to take care of the new generation, on whom the future of the country depends. So how can we allow ourselves to give them wrong education? The censor board is very liberal. But what is the modern generation watching? We are giving them the license to see anything. How is this projecting our culture?”
Why Bollywood Sucks
A comprehensive explanation of why Bollywood sucks will necessarily fill entire books. Alternatively, you can see it for yourself when you watch the next Bollywood movie which takes place in Switzerland; Or a Bollywood movie which has already been made in Hollywood; Or one whose camera operator places immense importance on the actress’s bosom.
You are, however, much likelier to see one that has all of the above.