Bollywood is ‘escapist dross’ says Times writer
Many millions of people around the globe watch them at the cinema or on dvd – and appear to enjoy them – but are Bollywood films really “vacuous escapist dross for the masses”?
That’s the view of Sathnam Sanghera, a feature writer with The Times newspaper in Britain, who is developing a reputation for expressing unconventional and challenging opinions (in a book about his family he stood up against the seemingly indestructible Indian convention of the arranged marriage).
In today’s Times Sanghera makes a blistering attack on Bollywood movies as afflicted by lipsynching (actors rarely do their own singing), plagiarism of tunes and plots, “rubbish” sound and writing, predictability, and repetitious use of “love triangles, moustachioed villains and star-crossed lovers dancing around trees”.
He also dislikes their melodramatic storylines (citing one example in some detail) and their length, which frequently extends to around three hours.
A witty commentator, Sanghera opines: “There is absolutely no need for anything, apart from sleep, to go on longer than two hours.”
He believes that Bollywood “nonsense” should not be promoted and celebrated to the extent that is today, even though it is successfully infiltrating western entertainment channels from television to pop to film and theatre, as never before.
The West’s cinematic standards exert some influence in the opposite direction – with would-be Bollywood actors also being coached in acting techniques that will stand them in good stead in the Western ‘mainstream’. But with more opportunities for Indian actors in Indian films than in Hollywood or Europe this is a limited process.
Bollywood did not always dominate of course. Sanghera points out that in the Fifties and Sixties Indian films portraying the hardships of Indian’s poor regularly competed for best foreign language film nominations at major film festivals in Europe and America. This all went wrong in the seventies, he says.
He is not convinced by suggestions that Bollywood films have improved – even if they win six prizes at the Indian Film Academy awards, as the historical film Jodhatha Akbar did recently.
You can read Sanghera’s full critique on The Times website at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/sathnam_sanghera/article6720805.ece
But is he right or is he wrong? If you like Bollywood movies – what is the allure for you? The music, the dancing? Do you have a favourite film? Or have you been a silent sufferer of the genre for years, not wanting to spoil the enjoyment of family and friends who can’t get their fill?
Is Bollywood perhaps sustained purely and simply by the romanticism of Indian women? If so, what would men prefer to watch? Are they being catered for at all?
We’d love to hear what you have to say. Write and tell us what you think. For – or against!
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