I was having lunch with some colleagues yesterday, and somehow the conversation drifted towards the movies, and then “Bollywood”.
“I’ve seen one or two Bollywood movies”, she said. “They last for at least FOUR hours, with ten songs, some crazy dancing, and no story. I’ve seen this really awful movie called ‘Par-des’. Gawd, it was hilarious!”
“THREE hours”, I said, getting defensive, and gritting my teeth for a fight.
I wanted to say that there is more to “Bollywood” than the three-hour song and dance routine. I wanted to say that “Bollywood” was only about Hindi movies, and that movies were made in over a dozen other languages. I wanted to say that regional heavyweights like Tamil and Telugu cinema made nearly as many movies as Hollywood did. I wanted to say that a healthy alternative cinema (which we call “art films”) existed. I wanted to say that movies made by Bimal Roy, Satyajit Ray, Guru Dutt, Govind Nihalani, Shyam Benegal and so many others were comparable to the “best” world cinema had to offer.
Then I wondered why I was getting defensive.
Sure, a lot of the movies really, really suck. But we still watch them. Hell, I watch so many movies; I’m practically supporting the video piracy industry (since Indian grocery stores have only pirated videos). I even saw the Bobby Deol non-starter ”Jurm", which arguably was the worst movie made in Hindi movie history.
I know the sight of Govinda and Karishma would make my colleagues burst out into peals of laughter, but I’ve watched their jhatkas as much as any one else.
I know King Khan is an unbearable ham, and I hate most of his movies (Swades being the exception), but I still end up watching most of them.
I do manage to boycott Salman Khan movies, but I’m not missing much there anyway.
I like the few good movies that come out of the Indian film industry. Those feel like rare gems that one has to search for. The quest for one of those gives me a high.
I like the stupid world of unreality and fantasy that most lousy Indian movies take us to.
I like using the fast forward button on the remote to forward Anu Malik’s songs.
I like Rajinikanth fights, where he can whip up a whirlwind by twirling his feet.
I laugh at the corny and loud “comedy”, sometimes through sheer exasperation.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. Most of us do exactly this. I don’t need to be defensive.
We are like this only.