Bollywood is under serious threat from Bharatiya cinema — and it’s good news
Bollywood is under serious threat from Bharatiya cinema — and it’s good news
The democratisation of cinematic space is one of the most refreshing changes in recent times. The cinematic space monopolisation of Bollywood, predominantly in the Hindi heartland, has been shattered for the good. The mundane world of Bollywood is finally seeing the end of the day. The overdose of appeasement, movie remakes, body shaming, flimsy storytelling, abysmal direction, lack of creativity and superficial stardom has finally been breached.
Come 2022, the mediocrity of Bollywood stands totally exposed in front of the brilliance of Bharatiya cinema. The movie industry called Bollywood which has been infested with nepotism and mediocre talent is suddenly facing an existential crisis because of the growth of Bharatiya cinemas. The three biggest blockbusters of the year are all from Bharatiya cinemas
The success of Pushpa: The Rise, RRR and KGF2 in 2022 has brought about a paradigm shift in the movie industry of Bharat. Bollywood, which used to monopolise the cinematic space in the Hindi heartland appears to be currently playing second fiddle to the Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil movie industry. The ramifications of such a colossal change is likely to affect how the cinema industry will shape up for the next decade or so. This will in turn affect how the impressionable minds of the future will think and believe. It will also bring about a more competitive environment in which content will be the king.
The downright rubbish which the monopoly of Bollywood fed the masses will no longer stand a chance for commercial success. These are positive signs for the times ahead. However, what needs to be answered is what brought about this paradigm shift. Also, another question that needs to be answered is how Bharatiya cinema is getting so much traction throughout the nation. Let’s understand both these issues one by one.
Bollywood currently, has reduced itself to almost a remake industry. There is hardly any original content available. The content put forth is seldom appealing to the masses. Whatever little original content that the industry throws up once in a blue moon is driven largely by woke agendas. There is hardly any reflection of Bharatiya Samskriti in the Bollywood content. There is a major disconnect between what people want and what Bollywood produces. If we analyse the content of Bollywood we find that the majority of the content is either inspired or copied. When more and more remakes of regional Bharatiya cinema started to get commercial success over the past decade or so, the originality of content in Bollywood went for a spin.
Originality, however, has never been a forte of Bollywood and many pirated versions of foreign music, action sequences and dramatic scenes are available under the pretext of ‘being inspired’ in Bollywood movies since time immemorial. This trend of copying was restricted majorly to foreign content but in the first two decades of the 21st century, more Bharatiya cinema content started to be produced as it is in the Bollywood movies. This created a major void between demand and supply with respect to the content produced by Bollywood and what the audience wanted in terms of content. This void started getting filled with more consumption of Bharatiya cinema on different movie channels on Television. Soon Bharatiya cinema stars became a household name in the Hindi belt as well. The rise of Bharatiya cinema is a result of this demand and supply void. Its rise is the re-establishment of Bharatiyata in cinema.
The year 2022 has witnessed three major blockbusters from the Bharatiya cinema. This is a breath of fresh air for all the movie consumers, especially in the Hindi heartland. The latest blockbuster KGF: Chapter 2 has received great response from the audience. This is largely due to the exceptional output that the director puts forward in the film. Every sequence is a visual delight. The movie is miles ahead of any contemporary Bollywood release both in its scale as well as its execution. The movie also tries to bring forward a story which resonates with the masses across geography.
Some Bollywood stars do add more appeal to the movie but the heart and soul of the movie lies in its honest storytelling. KGF: Chapter 2 brings to us a story of struggle, grit, determination and focus. The story of the purity of love between a mother and son. The story of Bharatiya Samskriti where all faiths are respected and allowed their own space and time for ‘Samanvaya’. The story of women reverences in the form of deity ‘Kaali’, which is revered irrespective of caste, creed and religion. The story of courage and conviction. It is the story of the youth of Bharat, which is aspirational and full of valour.
The success of the movie lies in its connection to what Bharat is and what it aspires to be. The dialogues of the movie received thunderous applause in the theatres. One such dialogue revering deity ‘Kaali’, showing respect for women in Bharatiya society went as: “Itihaas aur purane kahte hai. Stree krodhit ho to haath nhi uthate hai.Sringaar karke, Tilak lagake, puja karke, Haath jodte hai”. Another dialogue which delivered a deadly blow to nepotism went as “kya hua hai hamaare desh ko, jahaan dekho recommendation, donation, domination, influence,baap ka naam. ab gareeb ka bachcha kya kare, mehanat kar ke pharst raink laane vaala kya kare, bina ghoos lie kaam karane vaala aphasar kya kare, hal chalane vaala kya kare, akela ghus ke sar kaatane vaala kya kare, merit, merit se aaye hai bhai.”
Such dialogues resonated with the masses. The content of the movie fills up the void which the lack of quality content in Bollywood has created. The movie will go down as one of the primary catalysts that changed the landscape of Bharatiya cinema.
It is high time that Bollywood pulls up its socks. Bollywood needs to wake up from its slumber. Bollywood along with its stars is facing an existential crisis. The prime reasons for this are poor quality content, subtle propaganda and not understanding the consumer demand. It is high time Bollywood realises that the majority of the consumers of the Bollywood content do not wish to see their stereotypical content making. People now appreciate truth more than propaganda.
The Kashmir Files is a clear example of this. Bollywood is likely to face more challenges in the future as Bharatiya cinema starts to get more money and produces movies with more finesse. Already, the euphoria created in the theaters for non-Bollywood movies is parallel to what the Khans’ movies and the likes of Hrithik Roshan used to create. The same euphoria is now visible for stars like Yash of the Kannada movie industry or Jr NTR or Ram Charan Teja of the Telugu industry. No longer superstars of Bharatiya cinema need to look up to Bollywood for pan Bharat stardom. They are creating their own space. They are creating their own paradigms for Bollywood to follow. This signals a polar shift in the cinematic universe of Bharat.
Bollywood needs to redefine itself for sustenance. It needs to start from shunning the name itself. “Bollywood’ was a derogatory term used to mock Bharatiya cinema by the Western media. We need to get rid of it. This is more so from the perspective of the pan Bharat industry and globalised outlook of cinema currently. A resurgence of Hindi cinema can help in expediting the growth of Bharatiya cinema on a global scale. But, for this the storytelling of Hindi cinema needs to change completely. We are the original storytellers of this world, we have infinite stories to tell that the globe can relate and celebrate, why just Iranian cinema be global, why a Parasite from South Korea won so many Oscars (though Oscar is not the hallmark of the best) why the highest film producing country’s cinema is just restricted to Box Office, Friday release, Monday Superhit and everybody forgets, is a cinema just a box office collection for the Hindi filmmakers?
It needs to focus more on real-life stories of contemporary and ancient Bharat. It needs to walk out of its apartments in Bandra and experience Bharat for what it is. It has for long-lived in its bubble which is about to burst. Bollywood only told the stories of the Urban Elite in the last few years, maybe because the makers never saw the world beyond Bandra, for them there existed no world, no stories outside their Centralized AC Ivory Offices. They travelled across the globe but never beyond Bandra here in Mumbai alone. With the rise of OTT and studio patterns, all the MBAs of rich Business schools have become content curators who leave Hindi or any Bharatiya language literature, they haven’t even read English literature written in this country. How can one expect their stories to relate to anybody in this country whose soul is in villages? I am tempted to quote a small incident here: A scriptwriter from a small town submitted his story to one of these so-called Content Creation Company; it was a story based on Munshi Premchand’s literature. The American Accent content curator in that so-called Creative Company did not understand a few nuances of the story. so she with confidence told the writer to get Premchand tomorrow along with him for the discussion. No, it’s not a joke to laugh at, it’s really a serious thing we all need to critically ponder upon.
How aware these writers of Bollywood who claim to represent Bharat is a big question. It’s not about IQ but about sensitivity and common sense. So many years Bollywood has forced ITS third rate copied stories to the small towns and tier 2 cities?” Hindi Cinema has a lot of catching up to do. The Bharatiya movie industry of the future will consist of equal respect for content across languages and geography. It will have stories of the common man, of our rich heritage, global samskriti, our pride. Bharat is changing and so the Hindi Industry needs to change as well.
The writer is Executive CCO, VSK Mumbai, and Advisor, VESIM Literati Festival, Prabuddha Bharat Belagavi, Khajuraho Literature Festival. He tweets from @MODIfied_SKP. Views expressed are personal.