(This article of mine was published on Friday, March 15, 2002, in Youth Express, a supplement that comes with The New Indian Express.
I may appear to be a ruthless critic of Bollywood movies but trust me I am the biggest fan of these movies. There can’t be a happier person than me when I see quality movies being produced by the Bollywood industry now on a regular basis. Bollywood truly has come of age! Hope you will enjoy reading this article. Please note it's written in a lighter vein).
The other day I committed a blunder by going for the movie Yaadein. I had resolved not to frequent theatres and fritter my money on dumb Hindi movies but that day, my wisdom failed to prevail upon me and I found myself along with my friend in the theatre.
Fifteen minutes into the movie, I was convinced that Yaadein was a modest entertainer, showcasing swanky mansions but definitely endurable. But another ten minutes into the movie, I began fretting and by interval I was fuming and seething with rage. We returned home absolutely bereft of any yaadeins of Yaadein.
Bollywood directors, especially Yash Chopra and Subash Ghai, specialize in making successful movies out of thin story lines and jaded themes. The latest to join Chopra’s clan is Karan Johar of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai fame. His latest extravaganza Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Ghum boasts of Bollywood’s biggest names coming together. But scratch beneath the gloss and glitz, and we discover hollowness in these movies. To put it bluntly, they provide cheap entertainment!
These Hindi movies sport a subtitle too these days. If Yaadien had ‘Memories to Cherish’ as its tag line then Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Ghum was not far behind either. ‘It’s all about loving your parents’ is indeed impressive. If one goes by these catchy phrases then he/she will undergo the highest test of their endurance capacity.
All these movies celebrate the invincible spirit of love. To back it there are a few sleazy dances by skimpily clad damsels. Thrown in are bombastic dialogues, which only unleash a ruthless assault on our ears. As if this wasn’t enough, we have to endure the high-voltage, gamut of emotions that our characters go through. Accent on trite themes such as love triangle, the so-called ever-lasting bond and moral values in an Indian family set-up show no signs of abating. And to think these directors amass crores(not to mention the star-status that goes with it)!
The only exceptions in recent years were Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai. If Ashutosh Gowariker captured the hearts of rural India, then Frarhan Akhtar had the urbane-yuppie generation go ga-ga over his flick. It’s indeed a relieving thought that we have a handful of directors with an inclination to experiment. It is however, the irrepressible old folks (Ghai, Chopra and their ilk) who continue to torment us.
Another fact that has gripped our filmmakers is the ‘last minute break-up of a marriage.’ Its origin can be traced back to Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and is still scrupulously followed. Even Akhtar in his Dil Chahta Hai failed to do away with this particular feature.
Good news this year is that Nagesh Kukunoor’s (remember Hyderabad Blues?) Bollywood Calling, a parody on Bollywood, would bring a new lease of life into these staid environs. More importantly, teach a lesson to all those over-rated, assuming and undeserving directors.