Monday, February 6, 2012

I am what I ham

Hindi filmmakers make bad movies with good songs. Nobody seems to be complaining though. And those who are, don’t matter. Regardless, music is always the undisputed winner thanks to the industry’s overindulgence in Sufi elements. Now, if only our celluloid had a similar narrative to carry. In case no one else has noticed, Bollywood is in dire need of a Renaissance. In fact, it requires much more than that.

Commercialization had made a brutal mockery of art. Of course, it’s always easier to pinpoint Hindi cinema’s shortcoming but that’s not THE point. We need to pause for a second and ask ourselves a very authentic question: “What the fcuk is going on?”

Iranian cinema churns out just a handful of flicks annually but their simplistic approach can teach even one of the largest film industries (yup, that's us) a lesson or two. Europeans keeps challenging the boundaries. Even the Chinese are tired of exporting martial art. Gory never looked mesmerizing before Koreans entered the scene. When Hollywood runs out of ideas, it turns towards their legends colorful characters from history to binge on. When we face a similar quandary, what do we do? We steal. Unabashedly. Awarding no credit, whatsoever, to the original copyright. Or worse off, we create modern remakes of our classics… and fail miserably.

This piece is sounding harsh but it’s alright. Those who can make a difference are pretending to be indifferent anyway. In this coffer-obsessed tinseltown, writing appears like a dying profession. For instance, Ra.One employed what they call state-of-the-art technology for special effects but missed on that basic ingredient – a good script. This is precisely the reason why we fail to come up with woman-centric storylines as often as we rather should. The filmmakers and producers have somehow convinced themselves that it’s not worth the risk. Or for that matter, a decent horror movie. To make things despicable, almost all the attempts to scare audience make them laugh their ass off.

In the same vein, for a nation with a landscape as diverse ours, there hasn’t been a single cross-country road movie. Na, DCH stopped at Goa and came back. 3 Idiots was in such a haste to reach Ladakh that it couldn’t enjoy the beautiful journey. And ZMND helped boost tourism of a country going through its worst economic crisis. In addition, North-East India is yet to get under Bolly’s myopic radar.

We don’t get to see courtroom movies either. (Shaurya was a brilliant try but lost ground in mimicking A Few Good Men.) Similarly, a generation that was nurtured by Amar Chitra Katha ought to produce a better front on animation. It doesn’t. Luckily, Bollywood can't afford to bother remaking Hollywood animation flicks!

Over the past decades, world cinema has witnessed a paradigm shift in its attitude towards each other. Freedom of expression is the language. But in our industry, things are where they were. Insofar, due to years of flowers making out instead of actors in the song, sex is still the F-word. Ignorance is not only bliss but also an unconventional scapegoat.

There is a depressing trend by which models switch to acting without walking through a very important tunnel: acting school/theater. Something tells them they are born actors. Whatever that ‘something’ is, it mustn’t be trusted. Hollywood, despite its over-glamorous skin, keeps strengthening its core because of their professional mindset. Unlike our so-called superstars, actors out there work hard on their art rather than stardom.

Salman is not a bad actor. He simply prefers not to act. The last film in which he genuinely acted was Tere Naam. In the rest, he stopped being human and was busy being Salman. Even SRK suffers from this malady. In spite of being such a fabulous showman, his big screen presence always leaves something to be desired. Of course, his millions of fans may more than just beg to differ. But to me, his last great act was Chak De and before that, Swades. Aamir deserves applause for turning into a perfectionist and putting his arrogance to good use. Saif proved his thespian mettle in Omkara and has what it takes to be a good painter… of portrayals. Akshay, being the loudspeaker that he is, would prefer to make a bad movie with John than make a good one with someone who can emote. Hrithik redefines fabulous and is the Nadal of Bollywood due to the evident hardwork he puts into each role he chooses. Ranbir has to be the finest actor of his generation but sadly, he's mostly paired with actresses who can't balance his acting scale. On the other end of the spectrum, except for the few 'actresses', a dancing majority are overpaid nautch girls.

Some weeks ago, there were talks of reopening cinema halls in Kashmir following a long lull. After all, why should Kashmiris be exempted from all the terrible Hindi movies the rest of the country inadvertently tolerates?


Suraj Gunwant said...

Absolutely spot-on! I agree to much of what you have to say. A few years ago i had grown a little optimistic with the state of affairs, but now it feels that we are getting dumb and dumber. With the successive success of nonsensical comedies and Dabbang, Ready and what not; I guess we are back to the 90's. There is no art attached, only numbers that count. Even the new film-makers who ought to have brought about a wave of change have given into money. The situation is extremely sad.

But there is a reason for this. India is a laggard in quality liberal education. While the number of literate junta is going up, the sensibility has not changed a bit, for the majority of course. To make a subtle, refined movie, you need people backing it up with moolah and a more refined audience waiting for experimentation. At present, there is hardly any difference between a rickshaw-wala and a college-graduate in terms of how they perceive art. I strongly believe that without an overhaul in education, we can make quality, realistic movies.

Nivedita Gandhi said...

Yes, I know what you should do - go into film making. Bollywood needs people like you big time. Your take on the Khan clan was hilarious, but nothing truer could have been said.
Also Hritik=Nadal, Bawahahaha :D