Oct 2nd, 2018, 02:26 PM

What the Hell is Bollywood?

By Nitya Shrikant
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge trailer snapshot. Image credit: Youtube/YRF
An insight into the largest film producing industry in the world.

The Indian film industry embodies more than 25 regional film-language productions, and Bollywood is the mother of all. According to Variety, "a staggering 1,907 films in 41 languages were certified in India in 2015-16 time frame." There is a stigma associated with the word Bollywood, as it is a stolen name. Yet Bollywood is much more than its stolen name; there are certain aspects to this industry that cannot go unnoticed.

All Indian films have an interval during which the audience can discuss the movie, make assumptions about the ending, have a bathroom break, and get some samosas. However odd that may seem to the western audience, it is a common tradition for Indians. Another, more well-known aspect of Bollywood films, are the common cliches and random dancing on the streets that occur during the movie. Loved by the masses, hated by the classes. The masses and the classes of the audience play an important role in this as the masses love the cliches and the classes can really do without it. Most of the time, certain cliche movies that the classes hate, the masses love and the movie ends up making a lot of money even though the content is bad. Production houses often balance out the ratio of cliches and dancing, depending on the audience the film is aimed at.

Why are Bollywood movies blockbuster hits, even after breaking into random dances in almost every third scene? The answer to that is pretty simple. The lifestyle of an average Indian person is rough. From the crazy weather to the over crowded public transportation, everything is blatantly normalized to the point that it's mundane. So people tend to find an escape in the beautiful, colorful worlds of Bollywood films where at the end everything falls into place, the hero kills the villain and saves the love of his life. The audience goes home with a feeling of ecstasy. The movie "Dilwale Dulhania Lejayenge" is a testimony of this. The movie aired on 20 October 1995, and after 23 years, it is still running in the Maratha Mandir theater in Mumbai. People want to believe in the possibilities and opportunities portrayed in Bollywood, which is known for its "larger than life" cinema.  

A movie that exemplifies the Bollywood characteristics is Sui Dhaga. It is a much awaited Hindi movie that is produced by one of the best production houses in India. There was a single screening of it in Paris at the Publicis Cinema on the Champs Élysées. The movie follows the story of Mauji (Varun Dhavan) and Mamta (Anushka Sharma), a lower-middle-class Indian couple. The story is about the entrepreneurial, emotional journey of their clothing company and the struggles that they go through emphasize their understanding and love for one another, regardless of the societal and personal obstacles they encounter. The film does portray the male-dominated society that is ever-present in India. The character of Mamta is submissive to the norms of Indian women, but she also shows intelligence and strength, influencing her husband's decisions. Mauji, on the other hand, is impulsive and all heart, complementing Mamta's character very well.


Een bericht gedeeld door AnushkaSharma1588 (@anushkasharma) op

Indian movies are divided into two halves, so the absence of the break in the Parisian cinema made the movie seem rather lengthy. The first half of the movie is funny and emotional, while also feeling very real and authentic. The lack of frequent cuts also helped the audience establish empathy for the characters on screen. The second half of the movie was very different. The movie became the well-known Bollywood cliche, with many slow-motion scenes. The Bollywood style finish did not match the very realistic style of the first half of the film. While the storyline ended the same way many other Bollywood movies do, the characters did keep their depth.

Industry professional and creative associate lead for Carnival Motion Pictues, Ritwick Maheshwari, shares some insight on Bollywood films. Typical cliches don't seem to bother Maheshwari, who states that "nowadays, everyone is making different cinema... sometimes when people forget their roots, it's better to watch cliche films." While he understands the importance of the typical cliches and romance, Ritwick Maheshwari sees less importance of the interval in Bollywood movies. Instead what Maheshwari does believe is important and intriguing, is the that "certain people don't take movies as entertaining purposes," they want the filmmakers to exercise complete creative liberty, showing what life is truly like. The best Bollywood movies are those that are intimate and create an experience that leaves the audience excited.