Monday, December 19, 2011


When one thinks of Hollywood, there are a number of stereotypes that come to mind: car chases, robots, bikini babes and of course, the white kids that save the world.
Over in Mumbai, there are a whole different array of stereotypes that Hindi cinema is trying to fight off.

1) "They Dance and Sing around fields"
They left that behind years ago, people (minus the occasional dream sequence)! And even when the actors do run around the hills of Switzerland, is it really that bad of a thing? Instead of depicting love with raunchy sex scenes, Hindi cinema depicts love with a dance and song. As Abhishek Bachchan famously stated on Oprah Winfrey's talk show, "—snap, cut—you're in the mountains singing and dancing!". All it does is enhance the experience. Other film industries don't spend the time and energy to create new music and choreograph dances, do they? 

2) "I saw a Bollywood film once...Slumdog Millionaire"
If there was an award for repeating the same sentence, the most number of times, "This is not an Indian movie" would most probably make the cut. Slumdog was simply a British movie about Indian people. There was nothing "Indian" about it, either. Any movie can be shot in a country, but it doesn't make that film from the country. For some reason, people in the West just cannot seem to grasp that concept. Plus, the story of a young boy, who lives in poverty and strikes it rich, while romancing a girl, has been done a million times. Back in the '70s, every other Amitabh and Dharmendra film was made with the same premise. The only difference is that Slumdog is missing that magic element. It is much more crude and has much, much more poverty. However, the misconception of it being an Indian movie may be a benefit for Bollywood, in the long run. People, for some reason, are enamored by Slumdog. Though they are wrong about it being "Indian" cinema, they have started to open their eyes to the force named Bollywood, which means more money for the markets. While saying that, I do not think Indian films need validation from foreign audiences. Indian films just deserve more money, that's all.

3) "Aishwarya Rai is an Indian Goddess and...Actress"
Aishwarya is a huge star. She is a global celebrity too. Nevertheless, she has evolved into a stereotypical image of what Bollywood is. She's always being called "the most beautiful woman in the world", a statement that has indirectly evolved into becoming an image of Hindi cinema. She is a good-looking individual, no doubt. However, Hindi cinema should be known as more than a "pretty face". In Hindi films, there are beautiful girls, but first and foremost, there is a story and how can we forget...a film.

4) "Aren't those movies, like ten hours long?"
Absolutely not! Hindi movies aren't ridiculously short like the 1.5 hour long Hollywood rom-coms, but they are also not the films from the '60s, which lasted more than 3 hours (I doubt anyone has sat through the whole duration of Mera Naam Joker). This is just one of the stigmas of Bollywood, which people are just not ready to let go of. It's all the '80s fault! The movies of the '40s, '50s and '60s were riding high, with great music, stories, actors and directors. They were pretty damn long, but nobody said anything. Then the '80s came around and the movies were terrible: horrible costumes, overacting, disco dancers and just too much masala. Now, who wants to see a bad movie for three hours? Despite cinematic improvement and success, people are still complaining about the length of Bollywood movies.

5) "Bollywood makes a billion movies a year" 
Bollywood is not the only type of Indian cinema. It's a portion of Indian cinema, which despite being the popular choice, stands next to the Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu film industries (to name the least). India, as a nation, does make the most movies, but Bollywood does not. The other industries are worlds apart from Hindi films, in sensibilities, language and culture. After all, India is one of the most diverse nations on earth, as well as one of the most populated. I wouldn't even be surprised if Bollywood produces less movies than Hollywood does! Regardless, people are always going to use this stereotype against Hindi films; it all helps the pretentious, Hollywood lovers saying, "quantity, not quality".

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