What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Bollywood‘? Do you think of a powerful ‘superhero’ kind of protagonist, beating up endless goons and winning his love in the end, or does a romantic flick that abides by the same storylines with apparently different screenplays come to mind? Well, I was someone who used to think the same a few years ago however, a lot has changed now in the Bollywood industry. Bollywood is not the same as it used to be in the early ’90s.
Cinema has been and will always be one of the most powerful mediums of entertainment. We all know how movies play a vital role in developing a culture in our society and addressing present-day issues. Movies help the audiences realise the actual ongoing situation about any issue that makes them feel connected. This is the power of a changing cinema.
If we take ourselves on a tour of Bollywood movies that were being produced and directed in the early ’90s, we would probably see many flaws and questions, from objectifying women to an unmannerly male protagonist who dares to do anything he wants to. The movies in that era seemed to be steering only with the perspective of milking the image of the actor on a big screen. That’s it! There was nothing wrong with this because such a concept in those days used to sell like hot cakes in the industry.
The most bizarre thing about the 90s Bollywood movies is originality missing from the character. I have never seen a villain having an army of goons with all of them wearing matching attire in real life. This is what feels disconnected. However, there were many commercial movies that Bollywood had given us in those periods also. Movies like Mera Naam Joker, Anand, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, etc. were some movies that were simple, sweet, and innocent. Even today, we as an audience still love to watch some of these amazing movies.
The demand for unconventional and experimental cinema was always high. The only problem was that the audience for such movies was less at that time. I feel that the audience has become more mature now and has become bored with watching a larger-than-life hero on screen.
Instead, they want someone on the big screen who they can feel connected to because no one in real life can beat up hundreds of people single-handedly! Bollywood directors like Nagesh Kukunoor and Anurag Kashyap are among those who have always tried their best to bring up the finest content to their target audience. If we look at movies like Rockford (1999) and Black Friday (2007), we can see that content has always been the king but is only undermined in popularity.
The good thing is that the audience has started accepting the movies that do not have big names associated with it but pure talent. It is good that the stories in Bollywood movies are changing and people are welcoming this change. If Bollywood does not have anything new to offer, the audience does not give a damn, because they have much original content available out there in the form of web series and short movies they can watch anywhere and anytime.
This is one of the toughest questions but the answer is pretty simple “Maybe or maybe not.” There can never be any specific answers to such questions because not everyone has the same taste in movies. If you like the concept behind Dear Zindagi (2016, it does not mean everyone is going to love it. Or, if you hate Judwaa 2 (2017) for some reason (like me), that does not mean everyone is going to second you. It is quite obvious.
Moreover, the lack of originality can be a matter of concern for future films in the Bollywood industry, because not remakes of South Indian movies will not make money for you every time. There will be a time when the audience will be bored of watching two similar movies with just a different star cast and language.
The movies are evolving with the acceptance of the audience. If there is no audience, there are no movies. But one thing is clear, that experimental and quality cinema has a chance of survival. If Bollywood keeps bringing fresh concepts, the audience is definitely going to love it.