Bollywood –Then and now August 12, 2011
Having enjoyed Bollywood movies during the past many decades beginning from 1960, I observe that perceptible changes have taken effect from decade to decade. In the sixties and early fifties the movies were mainly filmed in black & white. There were also not many releases during those days but these invariably were on Fridays as is in vogue presently. The films were dominated by Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor for nearly 4 decades. Films like “Awara”, “Shri 420”,”Madhumati”, “Mugel-E-Azam”,”Kala Pani”,”Paying Guest” come to mind vividly. There was considerable emphasis on songs and dances in most of these movies.
Changes started occurring in during the early sixties when a few films were produced in colour. Before this a few movies were partly in colour. I am able to recall the famous number “Chaudhvin Ka Chand Ho “ from the film “Chaudhvin Ka Chand“ was filmed in colour while the rest of the movie was in “black & white”. The trend for full length feature film in colour, was set by R.K films, with the release of “Sangam” in 1964 which was a roaring success and ran for more than a year at the “Apsara” cinema, Mumbai. With the release of “Sangam” by the show man Raj Kapoor, new trends were set in the exposure norms with regard to swimming costumes for the female lead artists. Raj Kapoor was criticized by the Indian middle classes for his methods. However, it may be mentioned that although there were shifts in the visual scheme of things, the audio aspect remained almost unchanged. The dialogue delivery was pretty decent with quality script writers. The songs in the movies were meaningful and within the limits of decency and set to great music by the likes of “Shankar–Jaikisan”,”Kalyanji-Anandji”,”S.D Burman”and “Laxmikant Pyarelal”.The audio abuses in these movies would be confined to the basket of “Kuttey ,Kamine, Haramzade & saley” since none of the producers thought it (mercifully enough) necessary to usher in or rather experiment with any new exposure norms here. It may also be very likely that the producers during that generation were not exposed to travel by Mumbai local trains where Mumbaikars are exposed to rich and sumptuous menu of nationalized abuses, if I may say so in a lighter vein.
Be that as it may, liberalization of the visual fare received further momentum with the release of R.K films such as “Bobby”,”Ram Teri Ganga Maili”,”Prem Rog”,”Satyam Shivam Sundaram “ etc. Raj Kapoor’s main thrust here, I think was to highlight the hidden sexuality in a female form and make an appeal to subtler senses of viewership, keeping the overall strict censorship norms prevailing then.
The liberalization process in the Bollywood movies commenced much before India liberalized its economy in the early 90’s.With the free flow of Capital, as also new thoughts and ideas from Hollywood movies, the earlier liberalization of exposure norms were applied to male forms too with Mr Salman Khan and Mr Hrithik Roshan leading the way. Further, with Hollywood adopting liberal doses of foul language and pedestrian audio stuff in its movies, can Bollywood remain far behind? Not at all, the new trend has taken off and is already assuming alarming proportions in India. The foul language observed in the dialogues is now creeping into the lyrics of the songs in the movies as may be observed from one of the songs in the movie “Delhi Belly”.
The kids in India watch most of these movies and with the prospect of their picking up this garbage, for use at home or outside, we as parents are seriously concerned. No sensible parent would want their children to make use of these abuses in their spoken language. It’s a shame that the producers supposedly include this rubbish on “Public demand” as though the so called “public” sent a signed petition to them.
From my experience during my service period in the Reserve Bank of India, I have come across many a colleagues who were hesitant to keep their young children to the care of a servant at home in order that the children do not pick up substandard language during their impressionable age. One can understand their concern since it would be rather difficult to erase this rubbish, if it is already picked up when children get constantly exposed to this, particularly when they interact with other children who have already grasped the audio garbage. But now with Bollywood adopting this carefree attitude from Hollywood and children imbibing every bit from their favourite stars, mothers or rather parents would be truly challenged to resist this onslaught.
Will the Censor Board in India wake up???
GOD save our children