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July 15, 2009

At some point, some of us stop watching Hollywood. It’s when we’re fed up of films held up by their stars, instead of plot.

At some point in time, some of us stop watching Bollywood movies. I make a point of mentioning ‘Bollywood movies’ rather than Hindi films, as Hindi cinema itself belongs to a lesser publicised category of international cinema than the factory that is Bollywood. Some of us, will however, stay tuned to them for a long time, and it has become my mission to establish what causes this rift in people, aside from the singing and dancing.

I’m not here to endlessly bitch, as that requires no effort and can be easily done by anyone, but it’s no secret that melodrama is the biggest cause for audiences to move over to other forms of international cinema. Purists would argue it is precisely this ingredient in these films which make them commercially viable, and on that argument I subside and agree. What gets me most, however, is the idolatry Bollywood stars receive, as I think this seriously undermines the quality of the films being produced. I stopped watching Yash Raj sagas a long time ago as I got tired of seeing the same faces playing the same roles all the time. I wonder if it is possible, for once, to see married actresses of above forty to make any plausible come back to cinema without having to play mothers. This might be something that takes a bit of getting used to, but at the same time, why is it generally acceptable for Akshay Kumar and Sharukh Khan to swan around with baby actresses all the time.

It seems that actors who make their mark are given permission to stay, whereas actresses are bred in a factory somewhere and turned around on a largely disposable scale. After a while the character vanished altogether and you’re just watching the same actor all the time, something I call the Amitabh Bachan effect - it’s what happens with over-exposure. Will there be a time therefore, when films can carry themselves on the merit of their plot rather than the candy that is on show? I would certainly hope so, as I can’t help but question what it says about us if there isn’t.

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