Lack of Originality in Bollywood

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Posted on July 9th, 2007 in Features, Movies

Bollywood is a name that says it all. Time in memorial Indian cinema has been frantically trying to imitate Hollywood. Imitation is not the only issue; throughout the years our cinema has continually assessed its movies by comparing and contrasting to Hollywood movies, movie stars, and music. As if that wasn’t enough, we judge our artistes popularity according to the likelihood of them doing a Hollywood project.

Whether it’s the recent release The Train, a carbon copy of the Jennifer Aniston starrer Derailed or Salman Khan’s Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega which was a cleverly disguised copy of Sandra Bullock’s While You Were Sleeping, copying Hollywood movies is a readily used feature in our cinema.

Cinema is known for its creative and imaginative nature. Moviemakers seriously undermine the endless possibilities of cinema by limiting themselves to copy stories and screenplays which were already established. Sure enough, we spice it up with melodrama and songs, but it is still a fancy way of plagiarism. Similarly, the music industry also has followed the filmi method. Karan Johar might have disguised the word ‘copying’ by cleverly buying the rights of Pretty Woman, but it still makes one wonder why couldn’t he just have used another tune. We have had other woman-glorifying numbers such as Ek Ladki Ko Dekha which have been just as successful and beautiful without resorting to imitation.

Secondly, it’s that assumption that everything has to be a version of a Hollywood relic. Krissh is supposed to be a version of the sudden flood of superhero movies in Hollywood. Rani’s husky voice has to be compared to Demi Moore. As Hollywood runs out of ideas, it has started to remake its classics (Spielberg’s War of the Worlds), and endless, not necessarily better, sequels of movies (The Matrix sequels). Somehow, it has become a trend that Indian cinema feels it must follow with Phir Hera Pheri, Munnabhai sequels and Dhoom 2. As soon as actors and actresses are rumoured to or have actually been involved in Hollywood projects, suddenly they become some sort of super-movie star, while actors who are 10 times better than those with Hollywood offers are rarely given a second glance.

I ask you, why do we need Hollywood to validate our existence? Why do we need to treat their shortcomings (sequels and remakes equals lack of original ideas) as a fashion statement? Why shoot movies in New York, London and Bangkok? Why measure our artists talent only when they speak English? Does Chinese cinema called itself Chollywood or is there a Frollywood for French cinema?

Increasing the popularity of Indian movies to gain a niche in the international entertainment market will not be achieved by replicating everything Hollywood does. It cannot be done by shooting abroad, increasing the number of sex scenes, and actresses shedding clothes. It will be done by portraying the Indian culture, promoting our values and beliefs and displaying our beautiful historical cities. Transform our theatrical plays into movies, making movies on novels written by our country’s authors, epics about historical myths and legends, and telling tales of the everyday men and women one encounter on the street.

Bring back the Indian in Indian Cinema.

Kuch Toh Bolo!

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