Bollywood is not an industry but a narrative of the culture that is India. At its best, Bollywood can give us a Rang De Basanti that inspires an entire generation to fight against wrongs. At its worst, well, let’s not get into it. Now though, Bollywood is facing a rather peculiar problem, and it comes from a number. The fixation with it rather.
100 crore is the new benchmark for the success of any movie and the magical figure that any self respecting director wants to hit. There is a growing, proven belief that if you throw together elements such as star power, fast paced music, a love story, some comedy and a climax full of fighting men, you will laugh all your way to the bank. Feels like the 80s once again doesn’t it?
The age old formula is now the new formula and unfortunately, it’s working so well that every few months movies such as Himmawala, Chennai Express and Ek Tha Tiger come out, with minimum story and maximum marketing budgets. Smaller, story driven movies get pulled out of theaters to make room for these audience hungry behemoths. We get to see actors of the caliber of Ajay Devgn, Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan depicting over the top characters in outlandish scripts in movies that don’t have them exercise even half their talent for no reason other than to make a boat load of money.
Now, we’re not complaining. Make money by all means, we really don’t want to stop you. But how about trying to make money with a movie that actually helps expand human consciousness?
Think of Barfi!, the Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra starrer that touched millions of hearts while being a box office blockbuster. Or 3 idiots, a movie that people still talk about years after its release. The key factor that helps Barfi! and 3 Idiots stand apart from the Chennai Expresses of this world are that these movies actually treat their audience like the intelligent mass they are, and don’t just rely on the masala of item numbers and slapstick comedy.
I suppose our grouse with this entire theme is that the repetition and lack of originality. Why remake Himmatwala? Why not make Chennai Express something more heartwarming? At the end of the day, we’re asking our Bollywood actors and directors to make better choices, because the audience is crying out for it! Take heart from the success of Vicky Donor and make something that becomes a legacy, not just a cheque in the bank.