Tag Archives: Raj Kapoor

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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When Raju Lost Faith in Ganga…

By Ankit Chandra

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Remember that movie starring Raj Kapoor, ‘Jis desh mein ganga behti hai’ ? Raj kapoor played the role of a guy from I think Banaras, and goes on to use his sanskar and values to transform a group of dacoits. I think the assumption in the movie was that Raju had complete faith in the values of the mother land.

Cut to Champaign in US. I have met a lot of NRIs here. Some have no traces of India in them, some still have a very thick Indian accent, some dress in ways you wouldn’t imagine on Indians, and then on the other hand you would have people dressed in Salwar kameez, but as soon as they open their mouth, you get amazed at the American accent that hits your ears.

It is interesting to interact with these people, as they aren’t Indians anymore, but thats what they identified as, or they identify themselves as (when they have nothing Indian in them). So in a restaurant, you would hear an Indian American talking to her American friends talking about Aishwarya Rai and saying that Indian people have beautiful names, and that Aishwarya Rai has a portugese ancestory, as Indians don’t have the genes for such beautiful green eyes… Or I heard another NRI in a party saying that Indian people gang up against NRIs coz they are rich and if your car hits a person in India, they would get after you, coz you are a rich NRI and thus you should be punished for that.

I wondered, what was the reason for these people to leave India and come to US… Was it the land of opportunities, or was it something else? I was going for an interview to a Multinational company in a city in US, and my cab driver was an Indian. he said to me : ‘Hope that you are interviewed by a white guy. if you get an Indian, he might ask you for money to let you in…’. Oh my God! I thought. I knew thats so not true, but that exposed me to another perception of India, that I have mostly been unaware of. That of a very common man, who still undergoes a very torturous life of subsistence living, where bribery is still the order of the day, and you have to fight for basic amenities. Indians here are either the most prosperous immigrants who live in Silicon valley or they are these poor Indians who couldn’t find a place for themselves in India. Probably most of you who would read this blog from India , would invariably have come from backgrounds where we have either shut out the ugly side of India, or have created a comfort zone around it.

So why do people leave their own home country to come to such a culturally diverse land where you are mostly cut off from the main stream? I could come up with a few reasons, but this is NOT an exhaustive list by any means….

Lost faith:

One of the people I know here lost his home to a tenant, went to the courts, got nothing done for years, and then had to accept an out of court settlement, finally paid money to the tenant to vacate his house. In his words, there is no ‘enforcement agency in India’. Every time I talk to him about India, I can see his hurt face. The face of a man who expected his environment to provide him with a decent living standard. Most of his words seethe with a latent anger towards the system. He got a chance to get rid of it, and he did. He lives a modest and comfortable life here.

Never had faith:

Some people here came coz they always believed that India wasn’t a place for them. They prolly pick up the foreign accent most easily, curse India in everything they see, and eventually become the worst ambassadors for us. I have met these people in parties here, who would narrate their stories in India, when surprisingly all things that happen to them are bad things, and seemingly they find nothing bad in their current country of residence. (I can point out a few right here).

A special third category:

Is of the people who were born here, but were forced to remain Indian at home, and then left out in the open foreign air to convert into what we call ABCDs. These are a very special variety. Some of them would wear salwars and shirts which were in fashion maybe 20 years back, and when you see them, you would think they have just come in from a remote small town in India. But as they open their mouths, they spew out American english, with ‘Oh my GAAWDs’, ‘This is soo kewwool’ etc etc.

To a person I met recently, I had to say that India she knows and India that I come from are two entirely different countries! These people evaluate their India trip from the American perspective. So Mumbai trains are ‘Sow ppphackked’. And that you have to get into a local train while it is running! (Can’t you wait till it stops or till you get accustomed to it??). They are scared of lizards, and almost all lizards fall on them when they are in India (maybe coz they are NRIs and lizards want to punish the rich NRIs), and so on…

Some of the things that happened to them are real, and maybe, as Indians, we are just used to them. I was just reading the article in the Economist : “What’s holding India Back”, and the reasons mentioned there were pretty much on the above lines. I agree there still are differences in the standard of living here for an common man vs his counterpart in India. Maybe studying these NRIs gives us another perspective of what we need to change in our system to restore the faith Raju had in Ganga…