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New Beginnings: 5 Changes We Wish Bollywood Will Embrace in 2014

Better masala, better cinema, lesser item numbers, more Ranveer Singh's pecs and?

No one wants to see uncles romance young women- except for the uncles.

It’s been a landmark year for Bollywood. We’ve learnt that beautiful women can be instrumental in making our man-boys grow up (Chennai Express, YJHD, Shuddh Desi Romance, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Besharam), that potentially-evil-but-beautiful women can be redeemed by the goodness of men  (Krrish 3, Inkaar, Race 2), that beautiful women may stand by and watch men conquer the world (Krrish 3, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Zanzeer) and that if all else fails, beautiful women can dance (every other movie).

Here are five ways Bollywood can shake things up a bit next year:

1. A Female-Bonding Film: If junta can go in droves to watch Vivek Oberoi, Aftaab Shivadasani and Riteish Deshmukh be friends (why people, why), then wouldn’t it pay to watch two famous actresses play pals ?

We would love to see Rani Mukherjee, Kajol and Preity Zinta play three boozy socialites who meet up for Friday brunches to talk about life and the living, a desi less Sex and more City if you will. And if Bollywood must skew younger, then how about a fun road trip with Kalki, Kangana and Parineeti?  The industry today is brimming with such interesting and unconventional women and it’s a shame that they still have to play the same cookie-cutter “maa behen girl friend” roles.  Also, while the men-folk have complicated factions and inter-necine rivalries, most actresses are just so happy to be working that it shouldn’t be too difficult getting them together in the same script! Get on it, Zoya!

2. Mind the gap:  The age gap that is.

I am not ashamed to say that I love the Khans, all three of them- Sir Aamir’s pretensions, Salman’s insouciance and Shahrukh’s histrionics- and I’m not for a moment suggesting they retire (how anaemic would a Bollywood with just Ranbir Kapoor and Imran Khan be!). But would it hurt their brand too much to act opposite someone more age-appropriate? No amount of botox and photoshop can hide that they are forty-somethings and their insistence on acting with women half their age is -quite honestly- a bit skeevy. Just imagine how much less suspension of belief would be required if the fiery stranger who taught Shahrukh to live was played by Madhuri Dikshit, or if Aamir Khan’s clown-acrobat (apologies, clown-thief)  in Dhoom 3 did his stunts with a smouldering Karishma Kapoor instead!

3. Update your DVD collection, Hindie guys- The early 1990s saw the emergence of Quentin Tarantino’s distinct film-making voice- part savant and part fanboy- and the early 2000s saw that of (don’t laugh) Zach Braff’s with Garden State. Unfortunately Hindie (Hindi Indie for the uninitiated) cinema’s vocabulary is stuck within these two male-centric viewpoints.  The movies are all either spaghetti pastiche homages with blood and gore, or moony men-child being taught how to love by hipster free spirits to an emo soundtrack. And while masala cinema hears it’s fair share of criticism, Indie by the virtue of it’s indie-ness is considered exempt. (At least it’s better than Singhhh is Kinnnng Part 3 , they say). But should being better be enough? Should alternative cinema not update it’s themes and vision with the times as well? Indie cinema should challenge, provoke discussion, and change the paradigm of film-making – not fall for the same lazy tricks as its much maligned richer Big Brothers. Between a rubbish multi-plex movie and a rubbish Dharma Productions movie give us the Dharma movie any day. At least the music will be fun!

4. Enough with the self-referencing- It is no secret that the language of cinema is the lingua franca of our country as well. Get a few millennials in the room and they can communicate entirely in snippets from Andaz Apna ApnaSholay and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. But does that mean that every one from Shah Rukh Khan to Sanjay Leela Bhansali to Anurag Kashyap should litter their work with references to their older works? Those fourth-wall breaking asides were funny for the first couple of times, but now we get the feeling that they are used to distract from the  thinness of the script. Focus on telling a new story, guys. If we wanted to be reminded of the magic of your past, we’d just rent a DVD instead!

5. The endless promotion cycles- In a recent junket interview Imran Khan mentioned that it takes them about four months of efforts to put together a movie, and then three months of wall to wall promotions. That’s absurd!

The straight talking Dimple Kapadia agrees and bemoans that actors have become vendors

Cinema is supposed to be art, people. You can’t try and sell it like the new variant of Tide- packaging the same shoddy product in a newer sleeker bag and then pasting billboards all over Bandra Reclamation!  Stop with those millions of reality show appearances where you are moved to tears of false humility by every dancing baby (but he is blind in one eye!! ).  And while we are at it, could you also kindly hand over your twitter password to your publicist  (Ohh Shahid ,how much more would I love you if you could spell better)? Let George Clooney tell you how it’s done.

“If you’re famous, I don’t — for the life of me — I don’t understand why any famous person would ever be on Twitter. Because first of all, the worst thing you can do is make yourself more available, right? Because you’re going to be available to everybody.”

So just put an end to all of the relentless promotion and focus on the art for a change.

The unfortunate MBA-ization of Bollywood has only meant less eccentricities, more focus groups, less characters, more franchises, less story-telling, more marketing. It almost makes one long for the Anil Kapoor- Jackie Shroff- Sunny Deol hey(hair) days! A return to the basics- a good script, 5 songs (none in the first 20 minutes of the movie please), a credible romance and at least one more credible relationship- that’s the least we require for good masala.  If we had just one wish for 2014- it would be to make more honest and less focus-grouped movies.

And while we are making our wish list,please, no Krrish 4 , Housefull 5 or Dhoom Seventy-hundred please?

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