Is Bollywood mainstream anymore?   #MondayMusings

Is Bollywood mainstream anymore? #MondayMusings

In writing of Indian culture, I am highly conscious of my own subjectivity; arguably, there is more than one Indian culture, and certainly more than one view of Indian culture. – Shashi Tharoor

You must be really not existing if you haven’t seen the drama and release of the Bollywood superstar Salman Khan.  Admittedly,  800+ crores ride on his movies and television performances.  But,  tell me how much substance is there in his movies?  It is surely a package deal with some comic scenes,  few great songs,  some fight scenes and that is it.  It is something which will give value for money for the mass viewers.  But,  scratch a bit of the surface and see if it is a movie that creates any impact in your thinking, society,  or great acting?  Sorry. His movies have only one motive – to entertain.  With the Khans and the Kumars getting out atleast a movie a year,  it seems like we are watching the same old stuff everyday.  Akshay Kumar seems have taken over the role of a conscientious citizen a la Manoj Kumar (Padman, Toilet – Ek Prem Katha, Airlift),  Aamir Khan brings out some unknown but serious aspect (Taare Zameen Par, Dhoom,  Secret Superstar),  Salman with his scriptless, storyless and directionless movies and Shah Rukh has overdosed on romance.  But every time he tries something geniune,  the viewers reject him (like Ashoka, Ra One).  Both these are good movies though.   Continue reading

Shakespeare in Bollywood

Shakespeare in Bollywood

It is a little too late in life that an ardent reader like me discovered the magic of Shakespeare.  And now that I am reading about him,  I am so excited that I want to read them all, to understand them all.  Thankfully,  the internet and Youtube is loaded with Shakespeare.  It is a fascinating world.  His dialogues are amazing and relevant even today.  Many of the idioms and phrases and even words we use can be attributed to the great Bard.  And another fallout is,  I see glimpses of these classics is some of the most mundane movies.  Shakespeare is very much dominant and kicking it in Bollywood.

  1. Karz / Om Shanti Om – Inspired from Hamlet.  The base story of Simi Garewal killing her husband to get to his inheritance is the first clue.  Nobody knows about it.  No one believes Rishi Kapoor when he says Simi Garewal killed him.  Rishi Kapoor’s reincarnation is only slightly more inspired by Hamlet’s father’s ghost who tells him that his mother in connivance with his brother has killed him.  Then there is the play where Rishi re-enacts how he died and then they focus on Simi’s face to see if she is guilt-ridden.  It is all Hamlet there.  For Malayalam movie fans,  revisit ‘No.20 Madras Mail’.  Strip off the antics of a drunken Mohanlal and Mammooty-emulating Mohanlal to discover Soman’s guilt.  The core of the murder theory is the same.
  2. Angoor – This great comedy starring Sanjeev Kapoor and Deven Verma in double role is a direct adaptation of ‘The Comedy of Errors’.  In fact, they even declare it at the beginning of the movie.  But the movie has been Indianised turning it into an evergreen classic.
  3. Baghbaan / Swarg – King Lear abdicates his kingdom and distributes it among all his children except one who is a little less favoured for being honest.  The King realises his error of judgement when he is shunted between the children whom he had endowed with his riches.  He is finally rescued by the less favoured child and a knight whom King Lear had dismissed earlier.  See the similarities with Baghbaan.  Amitabh and Hema Malini are shunted between the children but finally is happy with Salman Khan who is an orphan helped by Amitabh.  Similarly, in Swarg,  Govinda is the knight who helps Rajesh Khanna and his less favoured child is Juhi Chawla here.  Of course, both movies have a lot of Bollywood masala added to Indianise it.
  4. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak(QSQT) – The classic tale of lovers belonging to two feuding families has been done and redone many times in Bollywood.  However, QSQT is one of the best adaptations.  But, I just hate the ending when the lovers die.  The movie is through and through Romeo and Juliet with a bit of honour killing thrown in to Indianise it.  Think of Ek Duje Ke Liye which is feuding families over something as trivial as languages.  Also all Hindi movies where the families are against their children marrying.  This must cover almost 70% of Bollywood movies.

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A Sequel for Sholay!

Sholay Film Poster
Sholay Film Poster

In the season of remakes and sequels and prequels and even inspirations,  and a nudge from Daily Prompt, I have been thinking about which movie should have a sequel with a lot of possibilities.  First, thought about the movies which had an ending which had some closed and open options.  And zeroed in on Sholay, the Bollywood masala western blockbuster movie.  If you watch the movie today,  you will be amazed at the tight story, action, crisp editing, direction, music, humour.  Everything about the movie is in the superlatives which has been discussed umpteen times on the internet.  Just google on ‘Sholay’

But, the movie has a sad ending.  Jai dies leaving a very tearful Radha who is already a widow.  But is again in a sense widowed.  Thakur got Gabbar arrested, but wanted to see Gabbar dead.  Veeru loses his dearest friend and partner and is inconsolable.  He has his love, Basanti, waiting for him.  After the movie, we leave the theatre on a sombre note with mixed emotions.  Good has won over evil but lost in achieving this win, Jai is lost.  What will happen next?

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