I belong that category of people who have a lot to criticise about Bollywood cinema. And there’s no disapproving that category – there is in fact quite a lot of things we can pick out as wrong or unnatural when it comes to Hindi cinema. However, it doesn’t rule out the fact that there are a couple of things Hindi cinema does so well that it is unbeaten by even the best of film makers worldwide. It may be so owing to the extraordinary tastes of the Indian audience which foreign film makers cannot cater to; but those few things make Hindi cinema worth holding on to, film after film.
This was a quarantine realization of course. As someone who belongs to an area of work which involves film studies as a collateral, I’ve been long used to watching excellent cinema for the purpose of study in a lot of languages and genres. Romantic Hindi movies have never been a part of my movie schedule, and there was always a prejudice that Hindi movies are basically exaggerated love stories with undue drama and music. Come quarantine, I choose a few Hindi films that I knew were very popular but I’d never watched them, and thought I’d check what makes them so loved after all.
Zindagi na milegi dobara, Dil Chahta Hai, Kabhi alvida na kehna, kal ho na ho and a few others in the same line constitute the list. And to be honest, they have managed to surprise me way more than I expected. Sure, they are dramatic and slow at times but there is an evident upper hand that Hindi cinema directors hold when it comes to romanticising emotions – be it love, heartbreak, solitude, friendship and even travel. They are masters in creating aesthetically appealing circumstances that compliment the emotion so well that the viewer is left wishing for instances of the sort in his/her life. I mean, who wouldn’t like to be caught cheating on your husband by a father in law who is apparently dating the mother of the person you are cheating with, and acts so cool and mature about it that there is almost a sense of relief in being caught? (Reference from Kabhi alvida na kehna)
Display of intense emotions is one of the hardest challenges for a director. And I believe Hindi cinema does ace that part. Yes, we have unnecessary songs and dances at every other interval and a lot of undue drama, but for anyone looking for emotional catharsis of any form, most movies from the line of directors such as Karan Johar and Imtiyaz Ali are definitely recommended. A lot of times, that’s pretty much what we expect from a movie, isn’t it? Entertainment, laughter, heartbreaks and dramatic reunions. Even amidst the evils of nepotism, over acting and remakes, Bollywood does deliver a handful of magical moments that can leave us yearning.