Friday, June 28, 2013

Strange Ways of Bollywood

We saw some great movies on Zee Classics this week. Back to back. One was Rajesh Khanna's Prem Nagar, which, though a hit, was made during the waning of his charisma. We had missed this movie earlier in our life. He has turned out a "classic" performance, pardon our misuse of the word. His intensity is what held us in thrall in those days. Add to that his charisma, the mannerisms. For us kids he was the only superstar, ever. Well, that was an era, a zeitgeist, a hero-worshipping time when we all wanted to be like him and combed our hair like him (over the ears, turned in with round combs at the back). It was a time of wanting to be something unique and great and we liked the idea of an idealistic lover. Today it may be Amitabh, Shahrukh, Aamir, or, Salman. I don't know. Even Amitabh with his intense eyes doesn't have his intensity and style, according to us. How different were their careers: one from superstardom to flopdom and the other from obscurity to stardom.

The ways of the movie world are quaint indeed, one of sharp contrasts. Recently I saw "Sweety" of the serial "Hum Panch" fame hawking some dubious weight-loss products on television. She was a craze in that serial of some vintage and everyone loved her, she had an all-India fan following. In the same serial was a studious, leave-me-alone girl, who didn't say much, who was always reading a book, and god forbid, wore glasses. She was Vidya Balan, a Chembur person like us. Vidya went to become a top-selling star in Bollywood and "Sweety" is selling products on telebrands. Imagine the irony of it all.

Stardom comes at a price, as we have seen in Jiah Khan's suicide. At one time she had everything, was a leading lady and then came the fall. Some commit suicide, some become mad. We attribute this to life itself in Bombay rather than the peculiarities of Bollywood.

We have seen some good Malayalam movies of late. Now, we are not boasting, these movies have good stories, written by talented writers. Which goes for Tamil movies also. That's why when Bollywood runs out of ideas it copies from Malayalam and Tamil movies. What we are waffling toward is the need for films to have good stories. Unfortunately, Hindi film stories are written on the sets. Kya?

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