Sanjay Shukla is a Journalist and Blogger, who has worked for many newspapers and channels in India. He is currently pursuing specialization in International Political Communication from Tel Aviv University, Israel. Here’s Mr. Shukla’s views on the ‘changing facade of Indian Cinema’ through years. You must read!
In past one and a half decade Indian Cinema (Bollywood) has been gone though its transition period. It has absorbed drastic change from its traditional presumption to something out of box.
21st Century has changed Indian Cinema extensively with movies becoming more subject oriented, critical, satirical, and artistic with common man being portrayed on Silver Screen.
It may started with movies like Lagaan (2001) followed by Swades, Chak De India, Tare Zameen Par and went on to even more radical form including Dev D, Gangs of Wasseypur and so on.
This period marked Producers and Directors with increased risk taking capacity to portray the issues which sometimes proved to be financial disaster.
stills from movie Vicky Donor, Chak De India, Gangs of Wasseypur and Lagaan
Notably, from 1970s till 2000 the Indian Hindi Cinema was literally focused on masala movies like family drama, romance, tragedy, action, underworld, crime etc. Superstar like Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, followed by present starts like Amir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan achieved stardom from these movies, which entertained Indian audiences for decades.
The credit may be given to Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Lagaan movie, which after being nominated for Oscar set a trend for already established and new directors to think out of leak. The trend continued with Swades once again by Ashutosh, Rang De Basanti by Rakeyesh Omprakash Mehra, Tare Zameen Par by Aamir Khan, Chak De India, Dev D, Dirty Picture, Fashion, Peepli Live etc. This trend led another established director Sanjay Leela Bhansali to come up with Black, which gained huge critics worldwide. R Balki’s Paa was another masterpiece of modern Hindi Cinema.
Moreover, Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor, which was a box office success, set a unique instance of movies based on subject which are bizarre can also be accepted by Indian audience. And notably audience has also taken their initiative hand in hand as in new modern times they like movies matched with social reality.
Films such as Life in Metro, Traffic Signal, Peepli Live narrates the story of common man of India, which was somehow omitted in 80s and 90s movies. In total, it can be presumed that, now, producers are more open to invest in new ideas, and directors are more enthusiastic to work for them.
In due course of time Bollywood directors have fished out themselves from repetitive Masala movies portraying love stories, family dramas, crime and traditional Indian tragedies, which swept Indian audience for decades.
However, it cannot be ruled out that no movies on social issues were made before in the history of Hindi Cinema. From late 50s to late 60s many such serious subject based films were made. Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, Shyam Benegal’s Ankur, Mother India, Rikwik Ghatak’s Subarnarekha, Mrinal Sen’s Akash Kusum etc were master piece of erstwhile Indian cinema. These movies were focused on problems of common man like poverty, prostitution, dowry, and other malpractices prevalent in contemporary Indian society.
But, the trend of Masala movies began in late 1970s and engulfed the Bollywood towards profit oriented films which gradually started vanishing their pitch, quality, and impact.
Music and Hindi Cinema
It will be injustice if contribution of music in Indian cinema in not mentioned. Songs have been integral part of Indian movies which gave them distinct looks as compared to international films. From 50s to 70s industry produced many talented lyricists’ music directors and artist like Pancham Da, Kishor Kumar, Mohammad, Rafi, Majrooh Sultanpouri, Lata Mangeshkar, Shalendra etc.
But, in the same fashion, unfortunately, it also started fading its charm from late 80s for-ever. Although in recent years, different kinds of music like Sufi, folk, and fusion of Hindustani and western music have been introduce in industry but it could not regained the charm of periods of Lata and Rafi.
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