Dabangg- 100 Crore plus. Ready- 100 Crore plus. Bodyguard-100 Crore plus. Singham- 100 crore plus. Yeah, we all know that oft-repeated piece of statistics. But does it convey any specific message? Or gives us a clue into movie-goers’ psyche? Does that redefine the way Bollywood movies are being made or will be made?
Yes, it does and many more. Let me list them:-
1) It is raining hits in Bollywood courtesy supremely glorified Heroes with bulging biceps and pampered pectorals. We are actually celebrating the re-arrival of 1980s where impregnable male protagonists are knocking the stuffing out of all competition. These Alpha-males with raging fire in their belly have succeeded in making ‘action’ as the flavor of the season.
2) Despite all the rumblings about how new-age filmmakers are trying to cater to so-called ‘mature’ audience that expects products with a difference, the truth lies in the fact that Indian viewers still prefer ‘masala’ films. Forget all that noise about emerging niche segments (read multiplex generation). We, the people still want our dose of action, emotion, drama and melodrama. Call it a sense of identification that average movie-goer associates with the Bollywood he has grown up with or increasing ire against the current political system, but this trend is here to continue.
3) Once upon a time, we used to look at south-Indian action flicks with considerable reservations as it did not match our class but now Bollywood can shamelessly copy/remake one southern blockbuster after another and set the cash registers ringing.
4) To the average Hindi movie watcher, the notion of Hero can do no wrong and it is he who always wins no matters what the odds are, still holds true. Screw the concept of realism.
5) The more they change, the more they remain the same. Whosoever said that, give him a hug on my behalf. Evolution can go backwards for Darwin’s sake. And that explains why we still love stereotypes. Whether it is an illiterate hawker or a sophisticated MBA professional working in a MNC, he will love Bajirao Singham equally.
Now, my personal ramblings-
Some of these blockbusters are actually so bad that your wife as well as you yourself can’t understand how you can bear to watch them. That these movies are so dumb, they’re actually hysterical. And yet we love them. Why? A mere flight of fantasy or a trip to escapism? If yes, why? Because we are so much disgusted with current system and its propagators/politicos that we will whistle for anyone who can beat these bad guys to pulp? Remember the excitement you felt when Mr. Singham and his esteemed colleagues thrashed the corrupt neta in a locked room. We so wish we could be there and do the same.
Most of us are pseudo-intellectuals who cannot really go ga-ga over for instance, something like a ‘Dhobi Ghaat’ because it’s a slice of life film that doesn’t rely on special effects, reminds us of struggle of everyday life and because it does not boast of chest-thumping villain or a one-man army hero or an actress who keeps threatening us with her bursting bust. It is so hard for us to accept that life is simply grey and not black and white as an average masala movie would have us believe. To me, movies are a significant medium of art. But powers-that-be are simply offering us crap entertainment. This might lead to eternal debate of Art Vs Entertainment and I know, people these days are just not looking for art. They want entertainment and I have no issues with them. But do you seriously think, likes of BajiRao Singham, Chulbul Pandey or a Lovely Singh can be bracketed under ‘entertainment’? Are we that screwed up in our lives that we will accept any garbage that film-makers are offering us under the garb of entertainment? But then, I should not really blame such intense movie-watchers who are brought up on Santa-Banta & Khuswant Singh jokes in the name of humurous literature!
Salman Khan and Rohit Shetty have repeatedly said, we are offering what audience wants. Yes, they are right. They are right about we people being so moronic with a poor taste. They are selling what audiences are lapping up with glee and excitement. If people are so much hailing the anti-establishment hero in 80s mould, shouldn’t they go back to watching movies like, ‘Paap ko jalakar raakh kar doonga’, ‘Kasam paida karne waale ki’, ‘Data’, ‘Mar mitenge’, ‘Loha’, ‘Ilaaka’, ‘Khoon bhari maang’, ‘Hukumat’ etc? After all, we are living on the nostalgia factor!
David Cronenberg once said, “Entertainment wants to give you what you want. Art wants to give you what you don’t know you want”. A fellow blogger says, “Entertainment is terrified of losing you, and is willing to change itself to be more to your taste. Art doesn’t give a f*ck whether it loses you — if you’re lost, that’s your problem. Entertainment condescends to what it perceives as your level. Art assumes you’re at a high level and wants to take you higher — it accentuates.” That explains everything, doesn’t it?
I am sick and tired of the cliché that people love such movies or David Dhawan’s movies simply because they want to escape from the brutal reality faced by them in their daily lives. If this is true then world deserves to be a cruel and barbaric place. I am not sure how many people actually agree with me on these false notions and eulogizing of ‘masala capers’ because in the end, audiences will say ‘it was paisa-vasool’, silly actors and directors are getting lots of new offers, multiplexes are happy about increasing footfalls and producers are laughing all the way to the bank.
As one guy would say “The bottom line with Bollywood movies as with Hollywood movies is MONEY. Audiences want and expect a certain formula, music, dancing, romance, barely clad women gyrating and a hero. I think the typical movie viewer wants to escape for a couple hours from their own life and watch a fantasy world unravel before them. Bollywood is working with bigger budgets, sets and technology now so it’s becoming more sophisticated according to the audiences tastes.”
By the way Oscar Wilde once said, “Yes, the public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.”
I am ready to be stoned!