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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bollywood...

This here is a post I had made in a forum where we were talking about Bollywood... To get a timeline... Love Aaj Kal had just been released... Like... about a couple weeks before this post was made... Tops... So heres my take on the great Hindi film industry.....
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I see movies like Love Aaj Kal and think... nice packaging and editing and filming and whatnot... but missing a story, and mediocre acting at best... then I see stuff like Chandni Chowk to China and I think... crappy
everything... then I see a movie like Straight and I am like... Awesome... Its hard to pin down what I really think about Bollywood... but having lived in the US for as long as I have... I realize that Hollywood is not that much different... there are crappy movies being made here too... just not as many and they never get screened overseas... so you get a skewed perspective... try watching the umpteen number of Saw movies and you'll get what I mean...

Overall I would recommend this for Bollywood.... when making a movie....
  1. Get a decent script... preferably one which is not ripped off from Hollywood... Cmon... theres a billion people in our country... cant one of them have a good original idea? I hear the ripoff of Juno is coming to Indian screens soon... or is it already there?----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  2. Try to cut back on the songs... sure they can be entertaining... but randomly sticking in item numbers/romantic songs really does not sit well with me... this is not to say that you should go the Hollywood way and get rid of them entirely... but just insert them in appropriate places... a song playing when the actors are in a disco makes sense... not when they're in college or a hospital or other such places...-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  3. Limit the actors wardrobes (and save a fortune!!) Stop changing their outfits at the drop of a hat!! And give them decent outfits... I mean the getup that Big B had on in that movie.... Jhoom Barabar Jhoom... yeesh!!----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  4. Limit the locales as well... going from Mumbai to Zurich to Kuala Lumpur and back within 3 minutes is expensive and pointless...---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  5. Cut back on the overacting... Actors who I once used to like are seriously pissing me off these days... Some will crucify me for this... but there used to be a time when I liked Govinda... (I actually kinda-sorta liked his performance in Salaam E Ishq... but thats about it... in the last decade he has not been a single film that I remotely liked)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  6. I realize that sex sells... but come on... have some pride... dont you want to be able to say that your film did well because it had a plot and good acting and not because of that item number by XYZ-hot-actress.... or the fact that she had next to nothing on for the entire movie?----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  7. Let our heros be human... a guy gets shot... at least make it so that he looks like he is hurt... and let him run out of ammo once in a while... and dont go around showing stuff like (excerpt from Fanaa: Tabu blows up an enemy chopper with an automatic pistol while wearing a saree I think...)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  8. Try to give the actors a realistic looking 'home environment' in the movie... eg An entry level worker in some company should not be able to afford an awesome apartment overlooking the city and drive a Lexus, wear a Rolex, Armani, Gucci etc... unless they explain it somehow... rich dad or what not...

Another thing which bugs me about Bollywood is the low level of professionalism (supposedly improving). You will often see the shoddy CG in a few films which looks very fake and negates the very point of having CG in the first place. You will see crappy performances where the actor does not get into the role, or care enough about it to refuse some of the more ridiculous whims of the director or whoever (Again... I will refer to the example of Big B's outfit in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom... a man of his experience and influence should have demanded a wardrobe change...)

Then there is the prevalence of nepotism... the star-parivars... which can be easily likened to political dynasties... People get in and get umpteen chances to 'prove themselves' simply cause they're the sons/daughters/relatives of someone in the industry, or someone who is otherwise well connected...
This is not to say that one can get a break anywhere without some kind of connections either; but what generally happens is that a struggling actor (not well connected) will only get one chance to prove himself.... whereas the well connected son/daughter will get umpteen chances...

The film Luck by Chance illustrates many of the flaws I have listed in a generally candid manner... but I still see no 'response' from the industry.... one of the few 'truthful' films made in the last decade which they are treating as an 'escape from reality'....

To the more rabid detractors of Hindi cinema... before you go off and talk about having every one of the actors and directors shot and restarting from scratch... here are some movies I think you should see... a selection of some Hindi movies I have enjoyed and consider worth my time (and money)... yes... I would BUY these movies... I am sure that there are those which have slipped my mind... but I think these should suffice... also I dont think any of them goes too far back beyond the mid nineties... except perhaps Satya... which means that there is still hope....

  1. Satya: Words fail me... gripping stuff...
  2. Company: Vivek Oberoi really shined in this one... as did Devgan... tight execution and no real flaws...
  3. Apharan: Devgan again does a fine job here...
  4. Sehar: Warsi unexpectedly slides well into this serious role... very refreshing... but Sushant Singh was the surprise packet...
  5. Omkara: Back to the Devgan-Oberoi pairing... and a similar(ish) ending too... but really well done...
  6. Shool: I had expected even greater things from Manoj Bajpai (Satya) after this movie... but he has not really delivered...
  7. 1971: Manoj Bajpai brings back my hopes that he will deliver another jewel... this one was another stellar performance...
  8. Rang De Basanti: Aamir Khan... I think an appropriate nickname for him could be 'The Tom Hanks of Bollywood' his films generally do not disappoint me... even if I dont always consider them to be masterpieces or 5 star material... I don't recall too many movies with him in them where I have walked away feeling murderous intent for the directors and everyone else associated with the movie... Excellent script and execution...
  9. Dil Chahata Hai: Aamir Khan.... and a combo of some other promising talent... Akshaye Khanna and Saif Ali Khan... lighthearted and superbly executed...
  10. Straight: Vinay Pathak once again proves why he is ready to take over the mantle of 'King of Comedy' with this one...
  11. Khosla Ka Ghosla: A low budget wonder... this film exceeds expectations in every category... brilliant stuff...
  12. Bheja Fry: You could call this a one man show.... Pathak hits a homer again...
  13. Jhonny Gaddar: Great film...
  14. Mithya: Interesting concept... well executed overall... no real flaws... Ranbir Shorey and Pathak really work well together (again!)
  15. Namastey London: An unexpected winner... what makes this one great is that the cast is extremely well suited to their roles... someone either put a great deal of thought into it... or just got plain lucky... but casting Katrina as an NRI and Akshay Kapoor as the goofy !!!! Punjabi dude was an excellent idea...
  16. Bhool Bhuliya: I realise that this one is a ripoff... but it was well executed... and everyone played their parts perfectly...
  17. Dev D: Makes you wonder why more Hindi 'romance' films cant be like this...
  18. No Smoking: Interesting concept... some over the top moments.... but very well done...
  19. Luck By Chance: One of those 'truthful' films that actually tries to tell the truth without idealizing anyone... there are no 'heros' or 'villains'... just people... and their circumstances...
  20. Lakshya: I liked this one cause Hrithik did a fine job of portraying his character and his growth from boy to man... and the director at least let him get shot a few times... and put his arm in a cast at the end...
  21. Jab We Met: Another film which makes you wonder why more rom-com's cant be like this... a rare gem in a heap of rubble...
  22. Jodhaa Akbar: Superlative music, great costumes, a decent script... and great acting...
  23. Guru: Powerful.... Abhishek finally proves that he has Bachan blood in his veins by carrying this film practically entirely with his own acting... Mithun helped... but really... it was Abhishek all the way...
  24. Sarkar: The 2nd iteration was not bad... but nowhere near as good as this one... Riveting stuff...
  25. Hazaaron Khwaahishei Aisi: Shiney does a great job... as does Kay Kay... great film...
  26. Munnabhai MBBS: It was over the top.. and yes there were the hospital song and dance sequences... but you will agree that this movie is supposed to be that way.... also... Sanjay Dutt really shines in this one... as does Warsi.... the same chemistry is also seen in Anthony Kaun Hai... but the execution is nowhere near as good...
  27. Hera Pheri: ONLY the 1st iteration is worth your time... over the top towards the end... but the beginnings are firmly rooted in reality... and the combo of Rawal, Kapoor and Shetty really took comedy to the next level with this one...
  28. Cheeni Kum: Big B proves that he can still bring it... Tabu is not half bad...

There are many other Hindi films which are good... in the sense that theyre not... terrible... theyre passable... average... decent... worth-a-watch... (whatever you prefer)... and these films also contain some stellar performance and excellent scores and whatnot... but are bogged down by other flaws...

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Now this here is a response from one of my friends.....
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Quote:
but having lived in the US for as long as I have... I realize that Hollywood is not that much different... there are crappy movies being made here too... just not as many and they never get screened overseas... so you get a skewed perspective...


Very correct. Only a handful of the Hollywood or foreign movies make it to India. And the ones which do make it are commercially or critically successful.

Quote:
Get a decent script... preferably one which is not ripped off from Hollywood... Cmon... theres a billion people in our country... cant one of them have a good original idea? I hear the ripoff of Juno is coming to Indian screens soon... or is it already there?


Copy-paste was/is favourite pastime in India as we tend to get "inspired" very often than others. So it would be wrong to blame just to Bollywood, its everywhere...

Quote:
Try to cut back on the songs... sure they can be entertaining... but randomly sticking in item numbers/romantic songs really does not sit well with me... this is not to say that you should go the hollywood way and get rid of them entirely... but just insert them in appropriate places... a song playing when the actors are in a disco makes sense... not when they're in college or a hospital or other such places...


Bollywood is very innovate, at least in this case. So what if they're in college or a hospital they can of course "dream" xD

Quote:
Limit the actors wardrobes (and save a fortune!!) Stop changing their outfits at the drop of a hat!! And give them decent outfits...


With corporate funding, there is no need to "save". Plus, there are "sponsors" of these wardrobes. Look at it this way, for a few seconds of TV commercial they pay lacs and here you get the entire 2:30 hours+ of time to showcase your collection.

Quote:
Limit the locales as well... going from Mumbai to Zurich to Kuala Lumpur and back within 3 minutes is expensive and pointless...


Atleast they are not visiting Nebula... after all one can visit anywhere in their "dreams" right?!? reminds me of
Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne hey even that was based on James Thurber's novel lol!

Quote:
Cut back on the overacting... Actors who I once used to like are seriously pissing me off these days...


Don't blame them... blame the script and the director (or the actors love for $$$) I simply can't understand how actors like Anupam Kher, Om Puri agree on acting in movies like Buddha Mar Gaya (2007) ...

Quote:
I realize that sex sells... but come on... have some pride... dont you want to be able to say that your film did well because it had a plot and good acting and not because of that item number by XYZ-hot-actress.... or the fact that she had next to nothing on for the entire movie?


Who defines that the film did well?? The boxoffice?? As long as the movie is able to rake in moolahs who cares??

Quote:
Try to give the actors a realistic looking 'home environment' in the movie... eg An entry level worker in some company should not be able to afford an awesome apartment overlooking the city and drive a Lexus, wear a Rolex, Armani, Gucci etc... unless they explain it somehow... rich dad or what not...


Doh!! But that's how the 'home envoirnment' are "supposed" to look!!

Quote:
Another thing which bugs me about Bollywood is the low level of professionalism (supposedly improving). You will often see the shoddy CG in a few films which looks very fake and negates the very point of having CG in the first place.


CGI/Animation was never a strong point in Indian movies. Plus, CGI/animation costs $$$, and the producers would rather spend that on a foreign locale that on animation (which very few people appreciate)

Quote:
Then there is the prevalence of nepotism... the star-parivars... which can be easily likened to political dynasties... People get in and get umpteen chances to 'prove themselves' simply cause they're the sons/daughters/relatives of someone in the industry, or someone who is otherwise well connected...


Again its not unique to Bollywood, is everywhere in India ...


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After reading that... I decided to take things up a notch... LoL... Heres my final shot...
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Gah... I figure I could be a bit more elaborate....

I know that copy past exists everywhere.... but Bollywood takes it to its utmost limit.... on a personal level.... I find it sickening.... Its mass media.... something you are going to show to hundreds of millions of people... and many people use it to pass judgment on Indian culture as a whole.... people should have the decency or pride to showcase original work... It leads to people ridiculing the entire Indian entertainment industry (refer to one of Omkars comments... whether in this thread or another I forget... where he quotes some jackass 'Professor' from some university)

Dreaming is good... but seriously... I dont ever remember my dreams having high bit rate audio and certainly not synced with another person.... thats ESP shit there...

When I say wardrobes.... I am talking about the 10-15 times that actors change their outfits in the middle of a song sequence.... often wearing clothes that no sane person would wear in public... Wonder how much 'showcase time' they get when the audience misses an outfit change every time they reach for their popcorn?

Again.... dreams are good... but its just plain unnecessary.... and often there is a complete disconnect from the 'scenery' and the 'vocals'.....

One more thing about these 'dreams'.... why in Gods name does it never seem like a dream anyway? At least make some effort to tell the audience that this was just the characters imagination at work... usually it seems like the hero takes the heroines hand... they hop on a flight to some place halfway around the world.... arrive there in the next few minutes completely refreshed and not jet-lagged... wearing new clothes.... no need for Visas.... none of that random checking (which is common for men from India / Subcontinent area).... and when they 'wake up' life is fine and dandy and no one gives a hoot that they had been 'sleeping' at work, while in the hospital... while in class.... whatever.... heck.... come to think of it.... that must mean that almost no Bollywood couple in the past couple decades has been awake during a single one of their 'dates'....

As for the actors and their love for $$$ and whatnot.... like you said... it completely escapes me why veteran actors... people who have done some excellent work in the past would be willing to act in some really disgusting movies and take on roles which I find demeaning.... both to them as actors and me as a viewer... refer Bachchan sahibs role in the movie Jhoom Barabar Jhoom... which I have actually not seen... but have heard only terrible things about.... his prodigal son didn't do much better either...

Sex Symbols selling movie tickets? Sure... they dont care as long as they get their money... but I care... I care about the declining standards of what people define as entertainment these days.... horrible really.... show enough skin and you have a blockbuster.... does not matter what the story is.... assuming there is one...

Reality is tough... but thats what it is... an impressionable youngster might actually believe what he sees and think that working as a BPO employee is enough to be able to afford those kinds of luxuries....

CGI is my nitpicking... I wont fault them too much for that.... but seriously.... why are they so willing do a half assed job? No matter how much it is.... I refuse to believe that decent CGI is more expensive than hauling an entire film crew and their entire entourage and all of their 'supplies' over to another country.... getting accommodation and renting the locations and whatnot...

Nepotism is everywhere.... but seriously.... Bollywood again takes this concept to a new level....


Oh yeah.... and this is the part where I laugh the hardest in almost every Hindi movie which has the 'warning'....

".... any resemblance to real people or events is completely unintentional...."

What real people?? What real events?? Are you freaking kidding me?

The few movies where these warnings are actually applicable are often the good ones.... or the better ones at least...

2 comments:

Nightwing said...

Bollywood has a lot of good movies but most go ignored...like last year..Dev D Gulaal...Rocket Singh...the year before that Mumbai Meri Jaan,Aamir,Oye Lucky Lucky Oye...

and yes..copy paste is a way of life for bollywood...i mean frame from frame copy..without even acknowledging the original..some movies..eg kaante are copied from more than one movies-usual suspects,reservoir dogs,heat.....

agreed there are poor movies in Hollywood too..and in every country..but mostly film-makers try to come up with movies which satisfy the artistic thirst....in Indian...most movies are made for purely commercial purposes...

overdose of melodrama,annoying song and dance killing the momentum of a movie...hardly any character development...corny dialogues galore...

even movies which are considered good like Paa,Taare Zameen Par etc try to lecture the people so much....and repeat the same thing over and over again./...

but the fault lies with the Indian audience..the film-makers make these kind of movies..coz WE watch them.,..and make them successful...

which like always brings us to the question-which is more important in a movie-art or entertainment?coz most people here watch movies for entertainment...

I have seen people hating movies like godfather,pulp fiction,fight club etc.....

The Laughing Man said...

Yeah... Bollywood has a few gems to its name... just saying that those are too few and far between...

Speaking of the Usual Suspects... did you see Chocolate? That was the Usual Suspects Ripoff...

Yeah... everything is about money these days... a real shame that... but this is one reason why low budget films like (for example) Khosla Ka Ghosla, and Straight REALLY impressed me...

I actually don't mind the melodrama... or even the music... just keep it real is the message I want to send...

I havent seen Paa... and I am not sure I want to... but I saw Taare Zameen Par... and while it was a preachy movie... it did a good job of it... The few song's that were in the movie were well crafted... and they actually helped to tell the story rather than acting like roadblocks...

The Indian audience is at fault... yes... a lamentable fact really... but another fault is the lack of an objective oversight... there are too many different 'awards' and too many different critics... and then there are language barriers from state to state... All of these factors combined make it impossible for someone to make a definitive claim about what was the top movie of the year in the industry... we need a setof awards and a group of judges and critics which are as unimpeachable as the Oscars in India before we can hope to change the way the audience perceives films...

I believe both art and entertainment are important... and if a film is really good... it manages to bring you both.... Khosla Ka Ghosla, Bheja Fry, etc and all of the films I listed in the blog post are solid entertainers and also a good representation of the art form that is a motion picture...

See... the thing is... you dont have to make a totally artsy/grim film like (for example) Crash, Babel, Million Dollar Baby etc... You can have films like Mithya, Straight, dammit... what was that one movie... Jhankaar Beats!... heck even Honeymoon Travels wasnt too shabby... (I saw only part of that one though... so my reference is a bit skewed... I hear that one couple was later revealed to have superpowers... o_0)...