Why Bollywood films suck at narratives: An optimist’s rant.

Non-fiction Apr 17, 2020

For decades Bollywood films have deeply disappointed me. There are certain factors that repeatedly keep cropping up:-

1)  Hero’s journey:

The question Bollywood most struggles with is Realism or Escapism?

The answer is rather simple. It’s detail.

By making stories and premises to cater to all segments & sections of the society, Bollywood ends up alienating all of them.

Filmmakers need to stop trying to make movies like the ones they enjoyed in the 90s. Today’s audience don’t want what you once wanted as a kid.

2)  Subtlety: I genuinely don’t know why Indian film actors can’t move past acting on camera like how they do on a drama stage. The audience is no longer 10 feet away! Quality camera work transports us straight into the situation.

We now observe every flick of the eyebrow, every faint trace of contempt and are sophisticated enough to even process individual character arcs. No longer do all the actors need to have just a valent emotion like those in 90s Aloknath marriage numbers.

Why does the villain have to communicate his plans with a cackle? Jesus! Have some faith in the observational skills of the viewers! Move the goddamn narrative along!

3)  Embracing weirdness: The more “commercial” a Bollywood film is; The more clichéd it is. Succesful american TV shows are completely opposite. Be it Li’l Sebastian from Parks & Rec, the bouncing car from Breaking Bad or nerdy ego clashes from Silicon Valley.

Being weird is no longer ostracised or looked down upon. It is considered relatable, bold and endearing.

4)  Integration of visual effects with the narrative:

The basic thing that makes humans happier is the feeling of progress. Be it in their career or their relationships.

Audiences, too are no different.

Unfortunately, Visual effects that do that on their own are too expensive. Zero, despite having awesome visual effects couldn’t get the progressive interplay right.

“Be a Chhichhore or a Bahubali. Don’t be a Kalank.”

In this golden age of content, Indian films are competing for eyeballs with HBO and Netflix. Indian soaps and linguistic barriers are no longer the benchmark as most of the Indian populace understands English now.

The dissolution of tension and catharsis by an item number is no longer accepted as mainstream Bollywood now.

There you have it. Please do this Bollywood. Then, I will start referring to you as you want me to, “Indian hindi film industry”. Have the gumption to experiment and carve your own niche. Only then do you deserve your own independent identity.

If you expect us to pay Rs 350 for a box of popcorn. You need to earn every paisa of it.

-Raj B Shah

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