For someone who has grown watching Bollywood/Hindi films, it is not that difficult to comprehend their evolution. Side-by-side I was also introduced to a particular English Film Industry based in Hollywood and other English-speaking nations around the world.
I don’t remember the first Hindi film I watched. The first English film I saw was Star Wars: A New Hope. Now it is called Star Wars Episode 4. Ever since that film, I have become a die-hard follower of the dark lord of the Sith – Darth Vader. I have begun to love Star Wars merchandise mostly in the form of videogames. The collectables were not strong enough to connect with me.
Hindi Films do not come in the form of merchandises despite the fact they have immense potential to generate great businesses.
Revolutionary concepts are not encouraged unless backed by substantial influence, finance and considerable industry backing.
Despite these shortcomings, I would still say, Hindi Cinema has come a long way. In comparison with its Hollywood counterpart, Hindi Film Industry is the largest in the world in terms of quantity. Nothing beats Hollywood in terms of revenue – that is a given.
Most films that were made concentrated on love-stories. Nowadays, love stories have ‘grown out of fashion’ with younger viewers.
I don’t have anything against love-stories except by the way it is told. I certainly don’t expect the word ‘compelling’ to make it interesting but a pinch of practicality would make it watchable. Case in point, Dil Chahata Hain (2001) makes marathon watching the same movie worthwhile. I would.
A few films exist which addresses the genre the way it typically should rather focussing on unwanted melodrama. While there are films which have openly broken the mould. Bahubali (2016) – two-part movie which no one thought Indian Film Industry was capable of making. SS Rajamouli the director proved it can be done. It was done with a huge budget. His efforts proved to be worthwhile since it broke the box-office records at that time.
I remember when I saw the first part, it deserved to be watched in the theatres. It is not that Hindi Film Industry has not made Epic drama. Since most of us, Indians have got a daily dose of spectacular battles from Hollywood [Gladiator (2000), Troy (2004), to name a few], the audience expects the Indian Film Industry especially the Hindi one to mimick such battles which are rarely done. That kicks in the disappointment.
What makes the Hindi Film Industry different?
Hindi Film Industry is already a recognised fact of having the main protagonist dance on the treetops with his loved one. This was the mainstay for many films in the past several decades. During those times, songs were good and memorable.
Over the past few years, the mainstream cinema which typically has these ‘pro-active’ dance sequence has taken a back seat with very few songs accompanying in the film. The runtime has greatly reduced from 180 min to a little around 120 min.
Is the spurt of new and non-nepotistic actors to be blamed who prefer a robust storyline? Possible. In such instances, the story takes precedence. Working on a modest budget and theatrical background and ample of experience helps. However, the current trends are the ones I would like to talk about below.
I also want to first talk about films of yesteryear which have the hard-to-miss song and dance sequences and makes watching the movie enjoyable.
Most of the films released until the late 00s did demonstrate focusing on the ‘formula film’ genre.
Hindi films are mostly family-centric. It is a fun-filled family entertainer for the whole family to enjoy. There are songs and dances. You won’t find profanity, cuss words or bad language. Such films would not even have kissing scenes. That was because most male and female actors refused to do so onscreen. The story does give ample impetus to parents, culture and family. Although culture may appear subtly hidden for the unknown – those who are aware of it know what it conveys.
Now, however, since the Indian audiences are maturing, they have come to accept kissing scenes in films. Although this is not done proactively only ‘according to the script’.
Kissing scenes are not even accepted in the era of satellite television. But they are widely portrayed in web-series.
Earlier, during the past decades, symbolic scenes were introduced to portray male and female actors kissing. For example, the merging of two flowers together face-to-face or the male and female actors simple hide behind a tree and the female actor would come in the view feeling shy. This would majorly be portrayed on song and dance sequences. These subtle things were introduced in a less than sexually liberal society and a highly conservative upbringing of the past.
It does not mean Indians aren’t conservative. The general population still express conservativeness to an extent. Modernity that infringes on culture is not accepted.
Must-watch films and why:
If you have not watched ‘Sholay‘ (1975) then what have you watched. It does not matter what generation you were born into. If you are a movie buff then you need to watch it.
This film has the right ingredient of a typical masala flick. It has also created several iconic names like Gabbar Singh, Thakur, Surma Bhopali, Basanti, etc. that are still remembered today. The most memorable part of the movie is the dialogue and the song ‘Yeh dosti hum nahi todenge‘. It literally means – We will not break this friendship. It is an evergreen friendship song that you will seldom find these days. The dialogues are punchy and hard-hitting. The film is mostly known for its action scenes and gun-fights.
Pushpak (1987) – This movie is also known as Pushpaka Vimana and is a South Indian film. What is unique about this movie, in particular, is that it is a Silent Film and is also the best one. The film has no songs whatsoever. It is amazing to how the film was made and how the actors communicate with non-verbal signs innovatively.
Silent films may have been originated due to the inability of the film camera to capture sounds during those times. However, this does not mean the actors have to mime throughout the film! Pushpak shows how it can be done and yet be a good film at the same time. despite being South Indian film why did I suggest it here? Simple, it has few actors from the Hindi Film Industry, notable veterans like Farida Jalal and Tinnu Anand have contributed their talents. Kamal Hassan is known in the south and the Hindi Film Industry as he has worked in both language films. The film is available on YouTube for free so you can enjoy it. I apologies, there is no digitally remastered version. You will have to make do with the VHS quality and sound.
Bawarchi (1972) – This movie is one of my personal favourites! The film has hardly any songs but has a message towards the end of the film. The title means ‘The Cook’ and revolves around a Cook (duh!) who comes to the service of a joint family. As the days go by, he makes them aware of values what the family had forgotten. I won’t be talking much about the film but would highly recommend you watch it. It is also available on YouTube for free.
There are many more films that I would like to recommend. If I do then the list would be enormous. However, in time I will put up a list in the future and talk about them in brief.