Indian’s take Bollywood very seriously. People here have erected temples in the name of their favorite protagonists. But this time, I am going to touch up on storylines that give these protagonists their place in the eyes of their onlookers.
To begin with, I admittedly found myself enjoying a number of films to write this. I went by the era, and was fortunate get snatches of some of the very old films like Alam Ara.
The Indian film industry; has progressively evolved over the years. The silent film era proved to be an instant hit. Masses totally cherished the era, and waited for more and more to come. One of the first films in Indian Cinema was directed by the Lumiere brothers and was showcased at a prominent venue in Mumbai in 1896. Personally, I viewed the evolution of films as a medium of proliferating knowledge. There was a lot of culture and heritage that got reflected using the reel as an intelligible medium. However, owing to the economic constrains masses were unable to enjoy the charms of a film in the initial years.
At the start of it, moviemakers created mythological films for its god-fearing patrons. This was done to encourage film viewing in the masses. A couple of films down the line, the medium proved to become a game changer for society, addressing a number of socio-political issues.
Raja Harishchandra, which was directed and produced by the father of Indian cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke, was one of the most well received full-length, mythological films of the silent film era. The film made progressive waves taking to foreign shores. It was the first ever art film that was screened in London in 1914. Mythological films simply dominated the 20’s.
The early thirties witnessed the onset of talkies. Alam Ara is a film that certainly cannot be missed. The decade gave the music industry the required impetus to grow, through films. The period of stardom started to set in during this decade. Onlookers, aspiring actors, and businessmen started viewing the Indian film industry as a potential hotbed that could yield ginormous profits. The inadequacy of the caste system, lawlessness of the patriarchal society, feminism, rehabilitation of prostitutes, and religious differences were all the issues that got addressed during the 30’s and 40’s. Films with nationalist sentiment also gained prominence, as this was the time when India was on the brink of independence. Even literature was given prominence, as Sharatchandra Chatterjee’s Devdas becomes a movie. Some of the well-known films of this era included, Aurat, Padosi, Sikandar, Ek Hi Raasta, Aadmi, Amar Jyoti, Achhuyat Kanya, and many more.
The 50’s to 70’s were considered the golden era in Indian cinema. After going through the dark phase of the world wars, the Indian independence, and the bloody Indo-Pak schism, there were burning concerns that were addressed by prominent film-makers of the likes of Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Bimal Roy, Mehboob, and Satyajit Ray. Issues like the outcome of the partition, the gruesome famine, the war of independence, and a number of other socio-political issues took to the color route after enjoying a rather profitable stance in the black and white phase. Films like Shree 420, Pyassa, Mother India, Pather Panchali, and Kaagaz ke Phool, created waves leaving an indelible imprint on the minds of onlookers in the years to follow.
Love was in the air in the 80’s and 90’s. The ‘Angry young man’ syndrome was vividly portrayed through this era. Since I was born in this era itself, I can certainly tell that movies came alive with color, humor, zest, melodrama and passion. Actors were fast becoming style icons. This decade proved to give the fashion industry a face-lift; where actors in Bollywood were fast becoming showstoppers, dawning the collection of well-known fashion designers, at numerous events. In spite of all the pop elements, films were lacking a substantial plot. Films like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Hum Appke Hai Kaun, and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, aren’t exactly realistic and didn’t really address some of the burning issues concerning of women, however we can’t deny that these are still some of our favorites. But, as the industry evolved, the modern day feminist youth started taking a serious departure from Bollywood.
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
Change started setting in, and a positive one at that! Filmmakers are now exposed, and are coming up with more realistic plots. They address teething issues of feminism in the corporate space, and in the media (Corporate, Page 3), they address issues of surrogacy (Filhaal), child labour (Salam Bombay), feminism (Lajja, Gulab Gang), fun flicks that are not exactly chick flicks (Veere Di Wedding) and a lot more.
Storywriters and directors are well versed with the challenges that the youth deal with today. This is precisely why they research every aspect of their character, and plot. Perhaps, this is what makes films today a little more enjoyable. Clearly, extensive lobbying on social media for these types of films has its own perks!
Bollywood has evolved and progressively. Filmmakers today are torn between delivering appropriate sentiments to people, to creating that pulsating box office hit, to being real, and delivering something refreshing all the same. But as a writer, I will only state that it is important to focus on the plot, and the magic will simply follow.
Written by Heer Kothari