By Rhea Sabherwal
After talking about how being a Bollywood addict has led me in the quest to find a perfect love story, along with losing a few grey cells on the way, I’m back to tell y’all what I feel are some of the other downsides of being such a huge Bollywood fan.
No new content
If you watch a lot of other cinema (apart from bollwyood) you will start seeing everything that Bollywood produces isn’t original. A LOT of official remakes Of movies from Hollywood / Tollywood are made, and sometimes it’s not even “official”. Whether it is blatant copying or some small changes in the plot, some slight differences or stark similarities, Bollywood has been copying content for a long time. Movies like Satte Pe Satta, Murder Players, The Burning Train and so on, have all been copied from either English or Japanese movies. So basically, if you watch anything other than Bollywood movies the chances are high that what you see in bollywood movies, you have already seen before.
If this age old tradition of copying movies from other industries wasn’t enough, Bollywood is now huge on ‘remakes’ of its own old movies and songs. These remakes are usually just a slightly revamped version of the old movie, with better effects and newer actors. This has become a huge business for Bollywood right now and remade songs and movies are doing very well, even though they mostly just end up spoiling the experience of the original.
Just as a the waves of change have started to breeze around in bollywood where very niche filmmakers are getting a wider audience due to their new content, the old school Bollywood biggies are continuining to reinforce the idea of remakes. This is why I said that currently Bollywood has very less new content. The current mantra seems to be – release, remake and repeat.
Fair amount of misogyny
Hey! Don’t get me wrong, I love Bollywood but no one can deny the fact that a lot of Bollywood movies, if not all, aren’t all that progressive. A lot of Bollywood movies do reinforce the idea that “ladkiyan khuli hui tijori ke tarah hoti hai”. The woman being the damsel in distress and the man coming in as her knight in shining armor is an age old story that Bollywood has used and reused WAY too many times. The problem isn’t with having a woman shown as a meek side character in a movie, because after all that is a story in itself too. But the problem arises when that kind of stories are the ones being made the most, leaving lesser and lesser space for newer and more progressive narratives. Bollywood movies have shown women as sex objects, as “items” that men need to protect and as people with no ambitions except those to “get the guy”. Bollwyood has even gone on to glorify and justify eve teasing (and probably a mild level if stalking) with song lyrics such as – “Khaali peeli khaali peeli rokne ka nahin, Tera peechha karoon toh tokne ka nahin, Haan tujhpe right mera, Tu hai delight mera, Tera raasta jo rokoon, Chaukne ka nahin”.
If you still aren’t convinced, then I insist you take a look at this trend in bollywood called ‘item songs’, where the ‘item’ is a scantily clad woman dancing around, and for (mostly drunk) men. Item numbers began with Shilpa Shetty featuring in “Main aayi hoon UP Bihar lootne”, and ever since this had become a trend. Top actresses are given a lot of money to feature in these item songs because any intelligent producer knows that this item song is what will make the movie earn big bucks. The cherry on top is that most of the times, these item songs rarely hold any value in the storyline of the film. They are solely put there because “sex sells” but since that will get censored, the next closest thing you can give the audience is a woman depicted like a sex object.
I do agree that making movies is an art, and art is interpretive but many a times the only possible interpretation to make out of many Bollywood movies and tactics they use (like item songs) is that they are in fact, very misogynistic.
While there is a conscious effort by filmmakers and other professionals in the industry to turn the narrative being told into a more progressive one. There are many more women centric films than there were a few years ago. But still most movies fail to pass the Bechdel Test. It is a measure of the representation of women in fiction. It asks whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added. This just goes on to show that while we maybe on the right path, we are very very far from where we need to be.
Check out the other perils, here!