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    Bollywood: The Battle between Content & Commerce

    By

    October 9, 2014

    WELCOME TO BOLLYWOOD 101!

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    The speciality of the place- Ape the west, add Indian spices and people start chanting your name. Sing and dance around trees and the crowd goes gaga. Produce a thought-less film with flying cars just to enter the 100 crore club? Indeed, the rules of the game are pretty simple, a 3 hour film with unbelievable action, cheesy dialogues, ditto copy scenes, bikini clad heroines and item songs. Follow these simple rules and a house-full board in front of the multiplex is a usual thing.

     

    Indian Cinema completed a 100 years in our lives, giving us a taste of the good, the bad and the ‘copied’.But going through some classic cult films, one realises that not many were a commercial success. And those who witnessed commercial success are nowhere in the league of extraordinary films. So the question is what’s a good Bollywood film? An American ‘Masala Corn’? Desi Indian ‘Bhutta’?

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    Hrithik Roshan starrer, Bang Bang has grossed Rs 128 crore (first week domestic collection), crossing the 100 crore threshold. Another Dhoom 3 in process, Eh? Dhoom 3 earned Rs 501.35 crore worldwide and NO respect. People forgot the film the moment they came out of the movie halls. “Dhoom 3 broke records as well as Dhoom’s legacy and laws of physics.” The film was highly predictable because of its close similarity to the Hollywood film, The Prestige and had no OMG factor in it. And the actress, presented merely as a ‘kathputli’, who would shake legs during a song. Like an inanimate toy, the actress would just come to increase the glamour in some scenes.Bang Bang is on the same lines. Official remake of Knight and Day, added with songs to suit the Indian audience. Copy-paste action scenes from the original, lead actress which is unfortunately Katrina again is seen just running around with Hrithik. At a time when films like Mary Kom, English Vinglish, Kahani and Queenare motivating women to empower themselves, these films are doing nothing in that respect. Do you like girls looking for shoulder or prefer them being that shoulder?

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    What does one look for in a film, the content or the commercial connect? Commercially Kick was a big hit and so was Ragini MMS2. But what was the plot or the thought behind the film? Did it stir the emotions of viewers or did it force them to think about the society or surroundings?Films with commercial connect are light, nonsensical, refreshing and can be enjoyed with leaving brains at home, this is the audience perspective. Ragini MMS2 is rushed to watch because they like seeing sizzling numbers and Sunny Leone. Kick and Dabangg work because of the Salman Khan fans and their loyalty. One enjoys him doing pure action and dancing and singing. But where’s the storyline? Call Honey Singh, have him sing a song and the music album of the film is an instant hit. Where people are blaming his songs for disrespecting women in this industry, at the same instant every producer rushes to him for a promo song in the film. Otherwise what is the need of After Party song in Bhoothnath returns or Lungi Dance in Chennai Express? Go through the highest grossing films, the common thread connecting them is Yo Yo song at the end of the film.

     

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    And then you have films like The Lunchbox, HawaaHawaai, CityLights which give a strong message at the end, leave it to the audience to think and come to conclusion. They arise some emotions among the ticket purchasers. Lunchbox was appreciated critically in India as well as world, but the multiplexes were empty while it’s screening. This is when Lunchbox is a coming of the age film. Based purely on a mistake which happens with all of us, the story takes various twists and turns. Comparing with Bang Bang, a film like Haider, rated 8.9 on IMDb has earned merely 35 crore. It clearly shows the fact that people went to watch Bang Bang instead of Haider. It was an adaptation, yet not even close to Hamlet. Making a strong point about Kashmir citizens and their battles, Vishal Bhardwaj creatively portrays an Indian scenario, using Shakespeare’s emotions as a backdrop. But Bang Bang is being watched more because of the commercial entertainment value. Haider is serious, slow, one needs to be alive throughout the film and that’s why people refrain from going.

    Yashpal Sharma, a NSD graduate and actor seen in films as Lagaan, Ab tak Chappan etc., said to a media house- “While doing commercial cinema, I discovered that I’m happier doing off-beat films or ones that give me more scope to act. Things as money and fame don’t appeal to me at all. I’m more concerned about my own inner satisfaction.” His words depict the fact that even mainstream actors with a passion for acting long for offbeat films as that actually showcases the true talent. But these actors go for making a commercial film to earn, as a commercial connect with the audience is helping the grossing rather than content.

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    Bollywood 101 needs to be changed. When we appreciate films as Inception, from Hollywood for their plot, acting etc. We should also applaud several original piece of artwork by Indian film-makers.The battle among offbeat and mainstream, content and plot-less needs to be made into one-sided battle. The content films making a mark and helping the society should be the future of Indian Cinema. Widen your horizon and try this genre of cinema. Accept that Bollywood as a source of entertainment has a duty- a duty to make the people aware, to motivate them to take a stand and bring an impact. While senseless comedy and over the top action are extras we love to have with big tub popcorns, a small sanity beverage should not harm. Scrapping off item songs might affect your sales, but it is worth every ounce of respect which will follow. Adding story with emotions will not hurt someone; rather win more hearts than money. Because in the end, connect to heart matters the most.

    Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.

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