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Is Bollywood Changing and If So, How?

Move over melodramatic movies, it is time for a reality check now!

Over the past few decades, our nation has been through a lot; ranging from emergencies, change in the political rule, geographical changes and many more. But one thing that hasn’t changed in India is Bollywood and its unrealistic need for romance. If you notice, most of the movies in the 80s and 90s had to have a love story centre stage. The posters did justice in portraying these monotonous ideas where the lead actors and actresses are seen looking at their bleak romantic future while the angry dad or a bearded goonda is preparing to kill the hero for unfathomable reasons which only differs from one movie to other.

Maybe it is just ‘No Shave November’! for the villain.

Doesn’t the poster give away the whole storyline? We watched these cheesy movies only for the dance numbers and the dishoom-dishoom fights!? The parameters were simply swapped as and when required – “Rich girl vs poor boy”, “Rich Boy vs Poor Girl”, “College Story vs Family Drama”, “Angry Hero vs Chocolate Hero”. Although innovative themes were introduced like Dance, Music, life-threatening deadly disease there was a lack of freshness as they all had to have a love story as the main thread while other aspects of the characters would be wrapped around gingerly.

The change, however, was brought by Mr Karan Johar. With his wave of brightly coloured fashion accessories, matching sarees with background orange trees, foreign location settings, humour mixed with emotion and drama, a perfect blend of friendship and romance (Pyaar Dosti Hai?!); these movies hit the right sweet spot in our hearts and the love-dovey-ness lasted over a decade. While glamour was redefined, there is a desperate need of redefinition now and thus biopics were introduced.

Common themes like college love triangles, what happened at the border were thoroughly used in scripts and have been recurrently rewritten in the past decade, last few years have seen a major change.

One might say that it started from Sanja Leela Bhansali’s 'Devdas', the most expensive Bollywood film ever produced and played by Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the lead roles which had enchanting sets and luxurious mansions set in the year of 1990s. Thus followed more movies of historical figures ranging from 'Ram Leela', 'Bajirao Mastani', 'Padmaavat', 'Airlift', 'Lagaan' etc.

Biopics are a new rage. Yet there is romance brewing somewhere. The likes of ‘A Wednesday’ or ‘Dangal’ and a few others are examples where there is absolutely no romance involved. Although there have been many movies where the main theme of the movie is not focused on romance and the limelight is taken by terrorism, patriotism, a social stigma; not much can be achieved in Bollywood if you remove love story out of the equation.

Hardly a few countable numbers of movies don’t have romance as their main storyline. These days, there are braver directors and much braver actors who are ready to shed clothes at a moment’s notice; who don’t resort to tried and tested scripts but choose from controversial taboo topics like those from movies 'Vicky Donor', 'Pad Man', 'Badhaai Ho', 'Tumhari Sulu' and 'Grand Masti'. The audience too is not encouraging monotonous dramas and prefer simplistic movies with great content. Not just the directors, but commercial actors too are taking a turn to accept roles with controversial scripts and are headstrong about it on social media and support campaigns which depict their stand against social crimes.

While movies like 'Drishyam' and 'Ghajini' are remakes on South Indian movies as original and were critically acclaimed, 'Talvar' and 'Manjhi: The Mountain Man' were movies based on real-life incidents. There were a lot of horror movies from RGV earlier, the new trend is that of horror/comedy movies like 'Stree' and 'Go Goa Gone'.

Yes, Bollywood is changing; but are we ready to get over mediocrity? Only quality movies can tell.

-An Editorial by Anusha Shanbhag
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