Today, I watched the Salman Khan starrer ‘Ready’ at the only theater which screens Bollywood films in Singapore. After, Wanted and Dabangg, the genre of nonsensical entertainment comprising of catchy numbers and over the top action, as in the films in the 1980’s and the early 1990’s were again back in vogue, with the masses craving for style and raw humor. The USP of Bollywood is not tasteful cinema which will be treated as case studies in film schools internationally like kurosawa ans ray, but rather the absence of it. The south asian ethos is captured in bollywood films which is indeed one of the bigger cultural exports apart from yoga to the global community. The TED Talk delivered by Shashi Tharoor on the rising ‘Soft Power’ illustrates the the charm of bollywood over an illiterate women in Dakar, West Africa who travels to the main city to watch a bollywood film every month, even though she understands none of the dialogues. Human emotions are powerful enough to surpass the language barrier and Bollywood’s true strength is in delivering in the face, raw emotions to the person who does not even understand it.
A Russian and an Indonesian friend of mine was inquiring about Mithun Chakraborty, the famous lead actor of the 1970’s and 80’s and they remember him by the iconic film ‘Disco Dancer’ and the song Jimmy Jimmy… Although Mithun Da, might be a 60 plus, character actor now, his work resonates with people who does not understand any word of it, its only by action and mannerisms that he swayed his audiences. Amitabh Bachchan is a legend whose popularity is from Kabul to Kyoto. His charisma and his sheer talent, has made him India’s unofficial cultural envoy. Shahrukh Khan was honored with the ‘Datuk’ title from the Royalty in Melaka, Malaysia for his sheer popularity to bring in tourists in to Malaysia with his film Don. The film ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ is a household staple in the Malay speaking world. The power of musicals are undermined by the intellectual community in India. Its our identity as the Hong Kong Film Industry has its action choreography as its mantle, leading to Oscar wins in the main category. Lagaan and Slumdog Millionare showed that Bollywood resonates with even the western audiences. Let us play to our strength instead of being blatant copycats.