Friday, April 6, 2012

B is for Bollywood

Listening to: Tujhse Nazar Nahi Zindigi from Massom
Mood: Procrastination central. I have relatives coming over tomorrow and I’m hiding from all the cleaning

Oh Bollywood. Over the past 10 years I have come to love you like you were a part of my own culture and upbringing.  For those not in the know, Bollywood is the Indian version of Hollywood that is based out of what was once Bombay. It’s now technically considered Mumbai, but come on people, we can’t call it Mollywood, that’s just ridiculous. In a side not, there is also a Sandalwood, Tollywood, and Kollywood. It’s getting totally out of control.

Bollywood has always had its own style of movie making that never directly competed with western style movies nor became taken over by them. To be sure certain elements were shamelessly borrowed from or stolen (Yeah, sneaking Snoop Doggy Dog into Bhangra, hello India, what’s that about??), but the soul of a Bollywood movie always retains its own flavor. Most of the movies are centered around music, although this isn’t necessarily true anymore. Think like a musical play, only with lots of coy looks and dancing in the rain. Bollywood can be split up into 3 catagories.
  1.  Really, really old movies. Some of these are classics, but the only people who seem to like these movies are older aunties and uncles and even their parents. It is a tremendous nostalgia jag for them to see really old movies. In the US, see anything with Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, or Cary Grant.
  2. Everything from the 70’s to the mid 90’s. This was really the golden age of Bollywood. The movies were for the most part interesting, the girls were innocent and fully covered, all sexuality was implied and never shown (seriously, not even kissing), and there were great songs from most of the movies. Indian kids growing up in the late 70’s were fully exposed to this section and probably have a firm affinity for this era. These are my personal favorite too.
  3. Anything after 1995. After that approximate time, Bollywood started selling its soul little by little and becoming more western. There are many more “Item Girls” (Hot girls who are loose with their favors), shorts and cleavage are common, and the songs have definitely lost some of the Indian soul and quality. They just seem like a cheap ripoff of some of the older movies. I understand that the world is flattening as we speak, but this just makes me sad how much movies have lost.

Bollywood has a whole lineup of actors and actresses that make a buttload of money, just like their American counterparts. Some have been around for quite some time and some have better acting skills than others. I personally prefer actors and actresses that have been around for a good long time (think Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, and Akshay Kumar) just because they seem to bring back some tradition and some of the magic that movies used to have.

If you’re not familiar with the genre, I highly suggest you check it out. You probably won’t like it at first. If you grew up on a strict diet of Hollywood movies, it will take you a long time to stop laughing, especially if you watch some of the older stuff. It does grow on you and you end up getting sucked into the innocence.


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