Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hindi Cinema - Cinema Paradiso?

There was a time in the 80's during my school days that i used to shun Hindi movies. And if you look at most of the films of that generation you would probably excuse me for my biased attitude. However with the advent of a new century emerged a new genre to Hindi Cinema..i wouldn't call it parallel cinema or art movies as that existed way back in the 80s. With movies like 'Bombay Boys' (99) , Dil Chahta Hain (2001), Jhankaar Beats (2002) the new age cinema had arrived where story lines and scripts with apt direction made for a cinematic treat for the Indian cinema viewer. It was a brave new world where old concepts and formulas were disregarded and the power of scripts and direction ruled the roost. There was another paradigm shift - the importance of a hero or heroine diminished and actors played roles that were in line with the scripts. This led to actors studying their roles in detail in an attempt to make their performances more realistic and convincing. The master of method acting Aamir Khan sets the standard here with his powerful yet subtle performances. There was also a marked change in the story lines and themes that new age Hindi cinema dealt with. There were new topics such as burning social issues, political activism, terrorism, dynamics of a changing social fabric that got conveyed through the scripts backed by directors who knew their craft. The results are there for all to see.
While the International recognition of Hindi cinema may still be limited to largely Indian audiences once cannot deny that the quality of Indian mainstream film entries at the Oscar and other leading film festivals has shown significant improvement. Gone are the days where a Hindi film meant at least 6 songs and numerous dress changes for the entire dancing unit !! Now you have movies like Rocket Singh where you struggle to remember if there was a single song. Times have indeed changed and this has enhanced the cinematic hunger of film viewers. Rarely do we see good films fail at the box office. What has happened as a parallel development is the rise of Indian fiction which has made a place for itself in the world of fiction. So there are no dearth of talented writers who would not mind penning a script for a movie given that it makes good business sense as well as addressing the rising need for quality scripts that the new age directors demand. That brings us to the next question - is this the pinnacle of Hindi cinema..my guess is there is a long way to go before we get there..what we have seen is a new beginning but given the momentum that we see in bringing quality cinema to the audiences and greater awareness in the cinema viewer and the plethora of entertainment choices that a consumer has, innovation will be the key to the continuing success of Hindi cinema as a medium of mass entertainment.
I am excited about the future of Hindi films..now that is what you call a volte-face..;)