Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Of Bombay Talkies and India.

Disclaimer: This post doesn't have much to do with the Bollywood movie Bombay Talkies (except the few references cited), and is neither a review. It's a much broader take at the lack of acceptance of Bollywood movies and their preachings in the lifestyle of India.

I don't watch many Bollywood movies, and that's for a simple reason. They are simply not good enough for me to want to waste my time on them. They are boring, pointless, excruciatingly painful to sit through (I was forced to watch Ready, twice, during my Mumbai-Pune bus journeys, so I know). Most of them are the same lovey-dovey romantic flicks, or action movies inspired from Rajnikanth, or just some dumb story with a big banner actor.

In the last couple of years, I've come to enjoy movies that have a good story, or that teach me something or the other. And as I kept exploring more Hollywood classics, I realized, no Indian movie comes even close to how the movie is made, what it portrays, or how it is written and acted out. They seem plain bland, at least to me.

And then it hit me, there actually are some good movies that India has produced too. And they were commercial successes. And they had profound messages. Then, why didn't those messages translate into any real change in the way India sees, does, perceives things? Even though there are so many movies, (movies after movies in some, cases) that share and preach the same ideology?

The last Bollywood movie I saw was, in fact, Bombay Talkies. (It's one of the most beautiful movies ever made, by the way.) There's so much that the movie offers us to learn from! Bombay Talkies, was completely about the stories the directors wanted to tell, to show the effect of the 100 years of Bollywood on the lives of India. And it's beautiful. You can see the trait every director leaves in the story they set to tell. It's simple, and yet profound. It talks about the importance of being truthful, to yourself, to those around you, to those you love, and every so subtly. And yet, that truth, is exactly what is lacking in this deceitful country of ours.

If our lives are so influenced by the glitterati and their habits and love affairs, why don't we take away a page of learning from the great role they just did? If Amitabh Bachchan is a God to so many of his fans that line-up outside his home, every Sunday evening, how many try to be as humble or respectful of time that he is? He too lives in Mumbai. He too faces the same traffic that you and I do. And yet, he is almost never late to any event or shoot.

Ever wondered what kind of a place this world would be like, if all those fans took learning something from their stars or their roles, just as seriously?

3 Idiots, Taare Zameen Par, Aarakshan, all talked about the sorry state of the education in the country and how it is desperately calling for help.

Swades blatantly told me that our country's culture, that we drag into every debate about the progress of the West, is the reason we are being held back. It also taught me that it is determination that gets work done.

Nayak, Rang De Basanti taught me that to change the system, you've to get into the system. How many people, after the watching movie, still complain about the system without having the slightest desires to take it up in their own hands?

Singham, No One Killed Jessica, taught me that no person is too big to be spared for a crime he/she commits. All it needs is determination to fight.

Chak De! India, Paan Singh Tomar, explicitly uncovered how we treat our sports stars, our national pride, if they're not cricketers.

Lage Raho Munnabhai so simply explained to us the meaning of Gandhi-giri (and no, what Baburao Hazare does, isn't Gandhigiri).

Lagaan talked about equality, abolishing casteism.

OMG! Oh My God, showed us how almost every religious establishment and so-called religious guru, take advantage of our blind faith in God for their personal benefits.

All these movies (almost all, if that pleases you) created a stir at the Box Office. All these movies were well-made movies. All these were movies that exhibit what India should be divulging from what India is. And after watching every movie, everyone that came out of the cinema hall, just wanted to do something big in the same very direction. And every time, one hour later, it all fizzles out.

Truth is only a word written on the coins minted, and the judicial logo. Education is in a worse place as it was before all the movies. So is the penetration of casteism, racial discrimination, and gender inequality. People still go to temples and ignorantly term and curse everyone who doesn't as an idiot. Gandhi-giri is believed to be what Arvind Kejriwal does. No youngster wants to be a politician. More so, politicians take the citizens for even more a ride! And surely, no one can even consider saying that the Indian 'culture' is inapt and out of time, in the current century.

If this is the effect Bollywood has had on India, that it can't raise India from its so static and orthodox customs and traditions that keep India bogged to the bottom, what's the point of those 100 'magnificent and successful' years? Hasn't the success been only movie producers' and the actors' who've earned by millions? Oh right, the movie-goer earned some entertainment and a few more idols to worship.

It makes me sad every time I see a good Bollywood movie, because the movie will only stay a movie, a piece of entertainment. No one will ever see it as anything more, even though they'll know the message. And that, for me, only exemplifies how much of a failure the world's second biggest entertainment industry, the Bombay Talkies, is.

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