Sunday, 29 June 2014

Our Films, Our Films.

Quite some time ago, the eminent and celebrated filmmaker Satyajit Ray came out with an anthology that bore a slightly different title. It was all about movie making techniques and milestones in both hollywood and bollywood. While the pioneers in hollywood were pretty much at the pro level already, Indian movie making was about the shrewdness and flair. It was about techniques and best possible utilization of available resources. We were greenhorns all right, but we knew how to make meaningful movies with successful reflection of what the maker intended to bring out. Yes, we had plagiarism and larceny with everything from scores to characters stolen from movies made by our western counterparts, yes, we had a roadside hero wearing raiment that was to the envy of even the richest men and we did have all the girls driving convertibles. However, what we had on the other hand, were stories that we cherished for a lifetime. 

We looked at history and we looked at the zeitgeist and we looked at our dreams and aspirations alike. While some movies made us watch things we always dreamt we could have, like Dev Anand with his uber clothing and gravitas, others gave us indomitable characters like Don and Gabbar Singh. Then we had movies like Anand that literally made us shrivel and fidget and ones like Golmaal and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, which were comedies with no contrivances. Even the ones that were good for nothing, had a few soulful songs to offer. In short, every movie had it's own story; the very desideratum of movie making, I guess. 

The epic still from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron

Fast forward and we move to post 2000. Bollywood was establishing itself as a majestic industry. Came 2001, and we gave ourselves Lagaan and Gadar, starring Aamir and Sunny respectively. It was a replay of 1990, when both of them starred in Dil and Ghayal, which too turned out to be blockbusters. Nevertheless, Lagaan and Gadar struck a chord like none other. Indian movie making was at its prime. Meaningful, emotionally wrenching and yet so viable commercially. Our movies had all epithets of being succesful. We did not have to add things, our movies took care of themselves. All of this went well till about 2005, when came the fad of item songs. Simultaneously, movies were imbibed with inexplicable and incongruous bursts of intimacy. We became forward looking all right, but that was not the reason.

 Movies had now become a paltry means of soliciting what happened inside the theater-  crowds whistling on girls dancing shabbily, a hero flaunting some of his cuts with the denouement unveiled with delays to capture on that, and the audiences rejoicing the moment when expletives were uttered. Maybe the last point was all they could have possibly related their own case to. Suddenly, movies were no longer about carrying something back, either a story or an inspiration. Reviews were now put up for auction, meshugge movies took the cake as they were more commercially appealing, and the final nail in the coffin, the movies with real stories never failed to escape public attention. Even the ones that had a a song or two to throw as bait, had songs that even lacked a proper rhyme and rendition. It's like the creative artists that loitered around to instill some structure and meaning, were all fired at once. I'm happy we continue to have low budget movies that strive with a selected clientele that still prices some sense, but I'm appalled we continue to have movies that are a bete noire and that too in bulk. If the maxim that movies are a reflection of the society is anything to go by, we are in a pretty decant and macabre state today.