FRIDAY REVIEW

Bollywood takes a reality check

SREEDHAR PILLAI

CHANGING FACE OF HINDI CINEMA: Latest box-office hit, `Salaam Namaste'

CHANGING FACE OF HINDI CINEMA: Latest box-office hit, `Salaam Namaste'  

The Hindi film industry is maturing. Tough, sensual and no-hold barred symbolises the cool new Hindi films such as "Page-3," "Bunty Aur Babli," "Parineeta" and the latest super hit, "Salaam Namaste." Cinema worldwide is changing and Bollywood is fast catching up. In fact, 2005 has been the year of great change and maturity in Hindi cinema.

Top-of-the-line film makers have given way to a new breed of young directors who are influencing audience taste. Hindi cinema has actually gone for a reality check as larger-than-life heroes, smugglers, dacoits as villains and candy floss love stories are no longer a part of the script. Ram Gopal Varma can be called the father of new-age reality films. Says Ramu: "The audience of today wants films that they can relate to and not big stars, outdated sets and singing around trees. They have moved over from syrupy feel-good family dramas to realistic movies." Adds Madhur Bhandarkar, director of `Page-3': "I feel that in the absence of good scripts, real life incidents can be made into plots. My curiosity about bar dancers after visiting a Mumbai dance bar resulted in `Chandni Bar.'

Similarly, `Page-3' is all about the social whirl which media too highlights everyday."

Take this year's big hit, "Bunty Aur Babli" about two small town crooks played by Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee. As per the old fashioned theory that crime does not pay is given a go by in the film, actually crime is rewarded!

Latest box-office hit, `Salaam Namaste'

Latest box-office hit, `Salaam Namaste'  

Brilliantly marketed by Yash Raj Films, as a "film for young hearts," "Bunty Aur Babli" pulled in Rs. 10 crores in the opening weekend and is touted to make Rs. 40 crores. Rani got a lot of critical acclaim when she played a widow who did not mind sleeping with the man whom she loved and later rejects his proposal for marriage in ``Hum Tum." In her forthcoming "Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna" directed by Karan Johar, she is a married woman with a child who has an extra marital affair with Shah Rukh Khan!

Vidya Balan, the Tamil Brahmin girl from Palakkad who did three aborted regional films went to Mumbai did 25 ad films and three music videos before she was cast as Lalita of Saratchandra Chatterjee classic, ``Parineeta." Today she is the toast of Bollywood as they are comparing her to Madhubala and Madhuri Dixit. She did not shy away from expressing her sexuality on screen with Saif.

Says Pradeep Sarkar, ad film maker-turned-director of "Parineeta": "I think the audience of today wants real people, their complications and emotions. I had captured emotions without any compromises and it worked."

"Salaam Namaste," directed by 27-year-old Siddharth Raj Anand is a straight lift of that Hollywood film "Nine Months" but has been Indianised to make it appealing to the desi audience. In this romantic comedy set in Melbourne, Australia, Saif and Preity lead an independent life without the usual family seen in Hindi films.

Madhur Bhandarkar's `Chandni Bar.'

Madhur Bhandarkar's `Chandni Bar.'  

Says Saif: The whole thing about a boy meeting a girl is a beaten to death formula in Indian films. But in "Salaam Namaste" director Siddharth has done it in a different way as the hero has a perspective of his own.

A vast majority of public is influenced by Bollywood trends like hair style, clothes and jewellery. For fashion designers it makes more commercial sense to introduce their designs through films rather than on ramps.

According to Syed Abbas of Melody theatre in Chennai, "The year 2005 is a landmark year. The way Hindi films are being made is totally changed. It has become more real than ever before." Abbas says that in a conservative city like Chennai, "Salaam Namaste" has netted Rs. 16.32 lakhs from three screens in its opening weekend, as good as "Mangal Pandey" opening! The multiplex boom in metros has also popularised new-age cinema.

Meanwhile, all new releases lined up in coming months are based on off-beat subjects. An old classic like Guru Dutt's "Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam" is being remade and even Karan Johar is deviating from his usual family drama to a bold subject in "Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna." As Amitabh Bachchan said in a recent interview, "Hindi films are changing for the better as it gets real."

Remember we are living in an age when Shah Rukh Khan has become the first male brand ambassador for a beauty soap!

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