In the eighties and nineties, Hindi movies had one formula that lasted for three hours. One hour was dedicated to the dhishum-dhishum, another to song and dance that included running around trees and getting soaked in the rain that magically appeared on a cloudless day. And one hour was for cliché dialogue and dramatic long pauses. But we still managed to leave the theatre feeling happier and lighter. We’d escaped the real world for three whole hours and entered a world built on fantasy, strange humour and too much make up.
But in the last decade, the typical Bollywood masala Philum has had a complete Michael Jackson-ish make over. Now the song and dance routine actually fits into the story, the hero and heroine don’t have to wear matching clothes and pelvic thrusts that look like PT gone psychotically wild have been replaced by less vulgar goddesses like Munni and Sheila.
Our heroes no longer beat the shit out of an army of bad guys to prove that they are indeed hero worthy nor are they angry men with a miserable pasts. Nope. It doesn’t matter if they have to cry with snort oozing out of one nostril or both. They don’t mind sharing equal space with a heroine, going bald or trading in their six pack for a jiggling stomach with a protruding belly button. As long as they can do “good cinema” or bag a role like a Saif in Omkara or an Abhishekh in Guru, the heroes will surrender their title for a more prestigious one. They want to be actors who can act.
Our leading ladies are not far behind for they too have metamorphosed into better actors. They can carry movies on their pretty little shoulders and don’t need a muscular hero or a stammering buffoon to make their movie a ‘super hit.’ In the past, even though actresses like Nargis, Nutan, Madhuballa, Rekha and even a Sridevi and a Madhuri were able captivate audiences with or without their thumkas and beautifully kohled almond shaped eyes, they could never be bigger than their male co-stars. But today our Bollywood princesses have finally come into their own and soon real actresses like Kalki and the girl from Ishaqzaade are going to deflate Katrina’s ego and overly plumped lips. Well, I certainly hope so.
It’s amazing how the Bollywood formula just stopped working and experimental cinema and brilliant films Dev D, LSD and Gangs of Wasseypur have started to truly resonate with every movie watching, pop corn eating aunty, uncle, teenager, BTM, ishtud, and even rickshaw vaala.. We no longer care much for Salman’s biceps and perfectly waxed chest. We want to discuss very scene and analyse every emotion. The movie doesn’t end when the lights come back on because we take it with us for coffee or dinner or on a long drive home.
To sum it up plain and simple, we now yearn for gratifying cinema. Even if it means that we don’t leave the theatre feeling happier and lighter because our movies are now telling our stories. So I guess somewhere along the way, we grew up and Bollywood just had to follow.