IT’S 2020 ALREADY! OR IS IT?

Picture credits: rifemagazine.com
The LARGEST film industry in the world is still very conservative and here’s why the world needs to know about it 

Sunday movie night was like a family ritual. After dinner, we would get together for a two-hour spree of drama, emotions, punchlines and of course, romance. My father would memorise the popular Amitabh Bachchan dialogues; my sister couldn’t help but be enchanted by Shah Rukh Khan’s dreamy eyes and mum adored the incredibly edgy action sequences. We all loved the songs.

Bollywood is huge. Bollywood is dreamy. Many would know that it is much bigger than Hollywood, producing over 1000 films a year for a worldwide audience of 3 billion. Naturally, it plays a very significant role in shaping up the ideologies of the society, setting and resetting new norms, on purpose or unintendedly.

Picture credits: hindustantimes.com

B-Town movies made me believe that when the wind gently caresses my hair and a rainbow appears from nowhere, I am about to meet the LOVE of my life. Endings are always HAPPY. The good guy must get the girl, dare she fall in love with anybody else. True love happens only once.

Movies, for us, are much more than just a source of entertainment. It’s an average Indian’s escape route from the gripping everyday issues of a third world country. We all want to be the guy who can run faster than a bullet, abolish corruption with a magic wand and groove like Mithun Chakraborty, if not a Michael Jackson.

People idolise movie stars. Sympathising with an actor turned terrorist and building temples for divas is no big deal.

Growing up, I never realised that this hyper normalisation of illusion and blind adoration, mixed together in unseemly proportions, could be very damaging. When we saw a group of women aimlessly dancing around the male lead, we would laugh it off. Girls would go gaga over a man who was all macho and could control his wife. Chauvinism was sexy, it still is. 

This is a universal concern. When you want to cast a shopkeeper, that shopkeeper is a man. Or add police, that the police is always a man. However, it is seamlessly intertwined with our everyday life without arousing the slightest suspicion. 

Bollywood has a merciless history of supporting objectification and racism. The female lead is needy, helpless and always turns to the male actor for support. No matter what, dark-skinned actors are always the bad guys or sympathy seekers. This is ironic considering the fact that the majority of Indians have a whitish skin tone. 

You would presume that a lot must have changed over the years. Its 2020 and sadly, the answer is NO. The number of female-centric and experimental films have certainly gone up but hardly make it to the A-list. 

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The 2019 release Kabir Singh, puts an arrogant, problematic and aggressive male lead on a pedestal. It glorifies sexual harassment, casteism and abuse in the most heroic way.

What is worrying is that this movie went on to become one of the HIGHEST grossing films of the year with multiple shows in India, UK, USA, Australia and several other Asian countries. 

A “total change” is required, not just in the mentality of the film industry, but of society as a whole. It looks like we still have a very long way to go.

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