Tag Archives: Hindi

66 Years Of Bollywood Since Independence: Why The Show Will Always Go On

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Ankush Kumar brings back 66-years of the Hindi film industry since Independence

“Awara hoon, ya gardish mein hoon, aasman ka tara hoon”. This Raj Kapoor classic sums up the journey of Hindi cinema in the last 100 years. A name that is not just a poorer cousin of its western counterpart, but also is behind its regional competitor, ‘Bollywood’ has reached an age of celebrations. Bevinda Collaco, the veteran journalist and Amit Khanna, a film maker both have staked claim in coining the term, that now appears even in the Oxford English dictionary ‘BOLLYWOOD’.

Ever since India gained independence in 1947 Hindi cinema has taken baby steps forward and today in 2013 we are ready to cater to global audiences. In the last 66 years Hindi cinema has seen some great periods of entertainment and some really low phases when the audience were treated to utter nonsense and stupidity. Today lets look back at the industry of entertainment fondly known as ‘Bollywood’.

“Dekha ek khawb, toh yeh silsile hue”
This song defines the era of post independence Hindi cinema. The fifties and sixties was the golden period of Hindi movies. A few good men saw the dream of making quality cinema and entertaining the audiences at large. Guru Dutt, Satyajit Ray, Raj Kapoor redefined the perception of Hindi cinema and brought a cross cultural appeal to it. Hence the films of that era, even today are considered timeless gems. In a poll conducted by BBC Asia for the top hundred songs in Bollywood, a whopping 46 percent of its music came from this era. At the dusk of the sixties, and dawn of the seventies, Hindi cinema witnessed the birth of a legend, that too purely ‘Luck by Chance’.

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The angst a common man had in him, was beautifully portrayed by the then generation of film makers and Hindi cinema made way to classics like Sholay, Deewar, Trishul, Zanjeer. This was the same era when film makers like Hrishikesh Mukherjee showcased the struggles of an underdog in a light humorous way.

Bollywood smashed box office records in this era. Legends like Amitabh Bachchan were born, and the world had begun to take notice of cinema from the east. The era of the seventies can be best summed up by this awesome dialogue ‘Mogambo khush hua’!

Its quite an Irony when it comes to Bollywood in the eighties. Back then when India won the cricket world cup in 1983, or when Delhi hosted the Asian games in 1982, or for the matter of fact when our hockey team won gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, our cinema saw a huge slump. The period between 1980 and 1988 is considered the darkest hour of Hindi cinema.

The old order was still adamant then, be it the actors or the directors or the musicians hence the end result of the movies were tacky and useless. Legendary directors like Manmohan Desai who had popularized Kumbh melas in the seventies did not find takers of his brand of cinema in the eighties. Legends like Amitabh Bachchan were the only who still managed return on investments; otherwise mostly films were a dull affair.

The advent of the nineties brought a sea change in Bollywood. The Chopras, Barjatyas and Johars dominated proceedings. Stars like Salman, Aamir and Shahrukh Khan were born. The new order of technicians and actors managed to erase the dark era of the eighties. Romance as a genre helped Bollywood make its mark in European and American markets. This was also the decade where Bollywood stars made rapid strides in the world of publicity and advertising.

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“Dekho 2000 zamana aa gaya” the dawn of the new millennium saw the birth of two sons of legendary actors, the Khans continued to dominate the decade. But some very inspiring comebacks made the difference. Bachchan Sr, Sanjay Dutt made a comeback of sorts, so did Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit. This was the era when new age cinema found their calling. Our movies went to prestigious fests and made a mark.

The copyright act meant plagiarism wasn’t a choice anymore and yet adaptations of western classics were made. Directors like ‘Vishal Bhardwaj’ captured literature from the world beautifully. Dark cinema was equally entertaining. But the decade of 2000 will be best remembered for ‘Lagaan’. A movie that made it to the academies final five. There is a section of society that thinks Oscars are equivalent to our Filmfare, but that has never been the case. They respect and celebrate cinema of the world, we have narrowed it down to just Hindi cinema.

Today as we enter sixty-six years of independence, Bollywood is ready to cut its hundredth cake, many milestones have been achieved, some have been missed, some legends have transcended into a better world, some are still wielding magic. One line that defines the spirit of Bollywood is “The show must go on”.

Disclaimer by the author: Editors have a way of thinking. He gave me just 600 words to cover 66 years of cinema. His expectations is for another day. Today I just want to say ‘there have been several names that do not make the write up, but their contribution to our cinema is equally important.

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Happy 100th Birthday Bollywood: From a Fan Turned Critic

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Ankush Kumar talks of how Bollywood has taken copying seriously in the name of being ‘inspired’. He though hopes someday the west also will be inspired from our films. Must read.

Assistant Director: Sir we need to make the breakdowns before the film goes on floors!

A trainee assistant talking to his director in the office.

Director: Don’t worry son, it is all in here (signals towards his brain)

Assistant Director: But sir how will we execute the movie, if we don’t have things on paper?

Director: Don’t worry son I can see the entire picture clearly, you go and see if the food has been delivered?

The Assistant Director leaves the chamber and goes back to his cubicle.

Director: Today’s kids. I tell you have a habit of challenging the vision, when will these boys learn? Filmein aise thodi banti hai?

Friend: Bilkul sir, aap toh genius ho, kahan yeh aaj kal ke smartphone generation ke bacche samjhenge.

The director excuses himself, locks himself into another room and is seen directly on the day of the shoot!

On the day of the shoot the entire crew is clueless of what is going to happen? The director walks in, and in a very smooth manner executes almost twenty percent of the movie.

Friend: sirjee aap toh great ho, maan gaye yeh film toh superhit hai.

The director smiles and leaves the set; this process is continued till the shoot is done. The trainee assistant has unlearned everything he was taught in his film school! He is baffled by the execution of the film.

The above written script of course is fictious but the bitter reality is that for a very long period of time this has been the norm when it comes to making Hindi language films. Today though the trend is changing, we have filmmakers who follow the right pattern in executing a movie, the one thing though that hasn’t changed though is ‘getting inspired from others’. For time immemorial directors have had the right DVD’s in their hands, and have executed movies accordingly. Earlier before the advent of satellite television in our country, our makers blatantly lifted movies from the west, copied their music and made it their own. Since the common man on the road had no access to the original literature, praises were heaped on the talent of these makers.

Times have changed now, we have better access to movies from Hollywood, even the Hindi heartland speaking people have access to movies translated into their language of comfort, and so what do the makers try? Execute movies of other foreign languages and claim it as their own.

Exceptions to the rule do exist too, we do make cinema that is refreshing and original, but that unfortunately can be counted on finger tips. There is a dialogue in the movie Nayak, it said ‘Ek chaprasi se lekar neta tak humare desh mein sab bhrasht ho chuke hai’. This holds unfortunately true for our movies too. ‘Ek film ke poster se lekar us film tak sab copied hai. OOPS! Inspired hai’.

Now as we enter ‘100 years of cinema’ and we have been celebrating this feat for a long time, we should wonder what are we proud of? In the age of ‘Google’ where we have access to the world in nanoseconds, most of our movies are not entirely originals. They say ‘nothing is original in this world, not even GOD’ but that can be the lamest excuse for someone who hesitates in producing features that can be claimed as their own.

They say with age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes the responsibility of doing something sensible, but as we have entered the second decade of the 21st century our makers (barring a few) have actually been churning out more nonsense than ever. The prime difference now though is ‘Their ideas have the stamp of a copyright contract’, they finally have seem to run out of inspiration too!!!

P.S: In a country where our constitution is made by combining the best laws of several other countries, it is quite natural our cinema has been the same. Someday ‘The West’ will get inspired by our movies too!

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