But what characterizes Hindi cinema, is its unique ability to be enjoyed by a widely different audience which I cannot stop emphasizing. Having studied marketing, I can well say, how difficult a task that must be. Catering to even slices of a teeming mass of culturally, politically, linguistically, economically, regionally, religiously and socially different billion people is certainly a daunting task. Just when I thought, Bollywood is transitioning to cater to a more urban intellectual and affluent audience that can afford expensive tickets at multiplexes and to international audiences targeting overseas sales, there came up ‘Dabangg’ a typical ‘formula’ movie with a super star as a cop hero, a villain with no scruples, interspersed with some unnecessary songs, an unnecessary heroine as an accessory, the omnipotent mother, plenty of action, melodrama and boom. A smashing hit! A movie liked by the so called urban intelligentsia as well as the rural masses. That is certainly tough to understand!
|'Dola re dola' dance sequence from movie 'Devdas'|
Refuting my friends point about not having the song and dance routines, “Well, that’s what Indian cinema is about!...I utterly detest the Indian movies without the songs and dances in them. All those beautiful haunting melodies by Lata, Asha, Mohd. Rafi etc, not ever existing! That’s unbelievable. And not having Shiela ki Jawani to save an utterly inane Tees Maar Khan or not having Dhan ta nan in Kaminey to keep the audiences grooving is terrible news too! Think about classics such as HAHK, DDLJ and all other fluffy SRK movies that the nation adored, and we are transported to exotic locales in Switzerland or US which most Indians would never have seen otherwise. No songs in those movies?! Bah! They wouldn’t be 1/10th as good as they are today. “
I guess, I am a die-hard bollywood buff with its melodrama and song and dance sequences and for all its detractors, I just need to say, we ought to be proud that our entertainment industry is one of the biggest in the world even as it caters to such difficult markets. Bollywood has so much potential to not just create entertainment, but also to showcase India’s rich culture in the international arena, delineate positively the burgeoning intelligent population and foster self confidence in Indians. Again, entertainment first, and then the messages!