Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fantasy Vs. Reality

And so the debate rages on... should the world be exposed to Mumbai's sores and sewers... or should we keep up the bombardment of Bambaiya ishstyle entertainment - the kind Bollywood espouses? I have very mixed feelings on the subject. Bollywood is a 'nasha' - a narcotic. It is meant to intoxicate and create delusions. The only serious objection such an approach poses is that countless uneducated folk start believing what they see - they assume Mumbai is exactly the way a commercial film maker projects it - garish, loud, full of gorgeous looking young people singing and dancing in the streets and becoming crorepatis overnight. According to recent statistics over 3000 people from all over India come to Mumbai daily.... and never leave. Most are sold a version of the city via Bollywood masala films. The harsh realities hit them later. By then it is too late. There is no going back. Jobless and frustrated, they turn to petty crime in order to survive. And from petty crime to major criminal activity is but a small step away. These guys cannot distinguish between Bollywood's absurd representation of life in the Big Mango. They don't know this is the ultimate escapist dream designed to dull the senses. They get sucked into a dangerous world...and their own lives spiral out of control.
Detractors of 'Slumdog...' maybe nervous that the film's success will cut into this dream factory and Bollywood may decide to reinvent itself, rethink the old formula.... then what?? For those who have fed on this formula, such a shift spells trouble - big trouble. They are least concerned about larger social issues or implications. If their constituency gets shaken, their earnings and star power drops automatically. Which explains the stiff resistance being put up to 'Slumdog.....' by big names from Bollywood. Those who argue the world should applaud our illogical, crazy commercial cinema with its gloss and humbug intact. We love those films because we know they are nonsensical and far removed from us. But try saying that to a 16-year-old school dropout from Lucknow\Kanpur\Allahabad.... he wants to be in the movies. He wants it bad.Bollywood is it!! And to such a person, the Bollywood ka Sapna is as real as Koena's plastic nose or Rakhi Sawant's implants. No sir.... 'Slumdog..." is difficult .... too difficult to digest. Like truth itself.


hitch writer said...

too much fuss over a film !!! seriously !!

too much fuss over a foreign award !!

phew !!

neeraj_only said...

like always slumdog's success is facing criticism from some people who can not digest it's success .we are always good at "leg pulling" so that no one becomes exceptional among us . We should change , if something is good , let it be and learn from there .

maam , i fully agree with you that bollywood is just showing false world . The difference is big b/w hollywood and bollywood , and time has come for this gap to be minimized , if not removed. we need some different desi movies...

Ashish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashish said...

Indian films are Indian!!!
We always leave a trail of our glorious past in almost everything which we create or innovate and that is inevitable.
Commercial films are made for entertainment and nothing else. I love the films which are entertaining rather than too much thought-provoking!!!
At the end of the day, a person goes to see a movie expecting that his tension would depreciate and he would get refreshed.
However, films like "Wednesday" and "Slumdog..." should come for a change. I love these movies too as these have an entertainment aspect too!!!
And yes please stop writing too much about "Slumdog....".... I love this movie but still your blog posts about these are movies are more than necessary!!!
no offense intended.
Coming back to this line "...But try saying that to a 16-year-old school dropout from Lucknow\Kanpur\Allahabad.... he wants to be in the movies. He wants it bad..." ....
It can't be helped by making art films either!!!
Entertainment industry should entertain us without hurting our emotions and beliefs....and nothing more than this..

Anonymous said...

M'am 'DE,

Bollywood to me is an excuse for wannabes to rush into the city. With so many Bhojpuri movies and Hundreds of TV serials being shot in Mumbai, Hindi film industry has now got support of new cousins (The Corporates in all forms of Media).

Priyadarshan (Billu Barber), ManiRatnam (Raavan)and Murugadoss (Ghajini) isnt the new bollywood?

We can leave the Jhatkas and the matkas for our NRI Indian Diaspora audiences who want to see India (read Mumbai) as they had left 20 -50 years back. They have failed to accept and induce changes in the living conditions of city back home. By watching tear jerking emotional stories backed with the khatkas they wash down their guilt of leaving their own motherland.

26/11 on TV has not shyed people to watch and face reality.

People who pay and buy tickets will decide what they like to watch in theatres. Fortunately they are not the one's who decide the electoral polity of our country, diverse and rich in regional culture.

To share an insight the best of Hindi movies sell not more than a crore foot falls of tickets at box office and annually within 24 crores.

Vinod Agarwal - People who live on their daily wages experience more Reality that what we see in our whole life time. Fantasy is for people who have a LIFE. No offences its a thought.

Rashida said...

Ms. De, I really think that you are obsessing a little much about a movie and its success. Its reaching a point that gives your words a sense of envy to them....

sorry to say that, but, you're turning into the media people we all detest for their negative obsession with something or somebody's success

Anonymous said...

I wish award organizors to start new category for foreign films and award them to make our awards popular as is Oscar and many.
Lets do serious marketing.
Think about it !

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your views.India is at the verge of becoming superpower. We should appreciate things rather than cribbing about not getting any international awards. I have yet to see the movie but have read rave reviews and seen the promos and clippings on telly and Youtube. A simple rag to riches story set up in Mumbai beautifully directed so the full credit should go to the director. There are many more untold stories which can be made into beautiful movies if bollywood wants awards.

ankur kakkar said...

i absolutely agree maam.. i firmly believe that cinema is but an imitation of life , and a manifestation of truth .. it ought to show the truth.. deluding people with a farce is definitely going against the true spirit of cinema and drama/art...

i think its high time people began to realise the diff b/w reel and real.

കിഷോർ‍:Kishor said...

I loved "Slumdog" even though some of the scenes were totally gross! But I am sure NRIs and westernized Indians are already having a tough time with release of this movie. This movie could very well negatively affect their social mobility :-) Deal with it, bitches!

Hopefully, a shock-treatment like "Slumdog" will breakdown the fantasy Bollywood formula.

shatrughan said...

I haven't seen the movie yet. I am still waiting for its release, but one thing I am sure about is that no movie can tell people that this place is this way or that way. In today's world, people are smart enough to use there brain. Foreigners (firangis) who have been to India or Mumbai know how this place is and who have not been here yet must be knowing this country through books and internet. So, I don't thing "Slumdog..." can portray a good or bad picture of Mumbai in people's mind. Its just a movie which I know surely is very intersting and should be seen as a movie only. Only emotions I have for this movie are I am dying to watch it after its release in 23rd January in a theatre near me and I am happy for AR Rahman who is getting all the international attention that I deserved long back.

oo7 said...

i loved the movie and i loved this post too.

the diff. it can't be undone till directors here start making original stuff ..and plzz no ghajini.. a stupid attempt to copy a marvelous film.

NAT said...

Too difficult to digest? Like truth itself.
Come on even you the great (so Called) Shobha De does not like the truth, that is why you did not place my comment on your Jan 15th Blog. It was a fact. We would be better off if we accepted our faults and tried to rectify them one by one.
We all know that you have to eke out a living putting people down.


Crazy Sam said...

It's high time that Indians stopped making fuss about two things, Bollywood and cricket. We spend just too much time on these two that we hardly care for any other issues. This whole talk about bollywood and hollywood is like talking of curd and milk. Bollywood can never be a Hollywood and Hollywood should never be a Bollywood.

KSH said...

De, this is the most absurd post I have read in recent times. I am so disappointed in you and your three back-to-back posts around *one* film, Slumdog Millionaire (SM).

First, neither Bollywood (aka the Indian film industry) nor the idea of Bombay are a *monolith*. From this perspective, any deterministic argument of a film deterring an individual from dreaming big in a city is naïve and pathetic to say the least.

Second, there was a time when sick M. Desai films were a rage and there was no room for independent films in mainstream theatres. Now all that is changing. There is an audience – an intelligent one at that which is able to discern, make choices and watch the kind of cinema that appeals to them - from chic flicks to mind-numbing comedy to drama to period films to urban contemporary and mixed genres. On these grounds, the formulaic argumentation is fundamentally flawed.

Third, Indian films for most part have either been a "nasha" or a "reality-check". There have been very few times when the two have been successfully put-together in one film. SM does just that. It is superb because it is dark yet optimistic; fantastical yet real. To me it redefines optimism and slaps the proponents of mainstream left, right and center.

Fourth, Big B’s and others of his ilk are losing it all. Haven’t they seen films like the "City of God" or even the "City of Joy"? My message to Big Names in Bollywood again, appreciate good cinema instead of taking pride in ludicrous films (like Chandni Chowk to China) premiering in Leicester Square.

Finally, most in the country are xenophobes. It is therefore not surprising that any change is viewed with suspicion, fear and doubt. What the Indian film fraternity has always done – reduce criticism to "fault-finding". On most occassions they have failed to develop a critical point of view based on introspection and education.

De, your thoughts have been a silver-lining always. But this post is like a dark cloud. It is time to develop a taste for cocktails that mix reality and fantasy in different proportions.

Running in circles. said...

We all need to concentrate on increasing our tolerance levels toward something productive, which isn't the work of our own mind.
Its all there.
The blame game will rage on.
And no amount of criticism can nullify the movies success.

Anonymous said...

hey Shobha...please reveal madam M.....errr manyata dutt!

SanJaiGan:-Dhi said...

another article which supports thackerays :)

as a maratian's view, it seems not bad..

Anonymous said...

Hi Shobhaa,

I was a young communication professional in Mumbai who had to come back to Indore,my hometown because of family issues.But I feel I dont belong here anymore.I belong to Mumbai.Damn,I love that city so much.And when I read your stuff,I feel you're simply echoing what I feel. Thanks!


Balvinder Singh said...

Why only Bombay film industry.... (i some how hate the words like Bollywood, cashgates , 26/11 which borrow sufixes and prefixes from the western world, reflecting our bankruptsy in thinking and inventing our own terms).... yes why only Bombay film industry, for that matter any piece of art work sells some dreams to the viewer, listener or reader to which he or she tends to relate him/herself. And for that reason you can't put a ban on dreaming.

Ankit said...

u r too much stressing on deserve what it has got!

Juhi said...

Yes, Slumdog is hard to digest...but I believe that though there should be films that entertain, there should also be cinema that makes you think and shakes you up and jolt you out of your comfort zone.

Just like there's a need for chick lit, but there's also a need for serious literature, the kind you can get your teeth into.

@lankr1ta said...

Ms De, I agree and disagree with you both. People who escape are not totally unaware of reality. It is like alcohol- reality i he hangover. And yet there is an escapism- even in the Bollywood Nasha- which is bad because it kind of allows mediocrity. People will swallow ANYTHING as long as it glitters.
On Slumdog- it aso a movie a very glittering unreal story to- just imagine a slum dog becoming a millionaire... and yet it is "realistic" isn't that more "dangerous" because it tells those who face the harsher reality of Bombay that it could happen to them.
One thing is sure though. Slum-dog is not part of global conspiracy to undermine India. It is a film. And there is no Western conspiracy to undermine India for its achievements either. That cons[piracy is a made up monster of minds who refuse to look at a lot of the reality that India is. And we do everyone a disservice when we try to allow that perversion that we pretend is "patriotism" ( but is in relaity an ostrich effect) to blind our percpetion of reality, fr then we no longer feel like working to better it.

Anonymous said...

Make up your mind woman. As usual you are contradicting yourself in every subsequent piece.

maha said...

nice posting...

Work from home India

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