Friday, November 18, 2011

Fantasy in Bollywood

I was watching the third movie in the Twilight saga - 'Eclipse' a few nights ago. The 'Twilight' series, although an epic romance, also belongs to the fantasy genre like Harry Potter.

I started to think, "Why can't Bollywood or regional Indian cinema come up with something in that genre?"
The trouble with Bollywood and commercial Indian cinema is that, in general, reality is shown in a fantasy form and fantasy as a genre has been relegated to the odd children's tale on television.
Thus, you have one hero effortlessly beating up fifty goons and defying all known laws of physics and on the other side, we have the same repetitive love stories in various forms.

There have been notable exceptions of late though. Science fiction has finally gone mainstream with 'Krrish', 'Koi Mil Gaya' and Rajnikanth's mega blockbuster 'Enthiran' (Robot). A combination of horror and romance with classical art was well presented in the Malayalam movie, 'Manachithrathazu' that was remade as 'Chandramukhi' in Tamil and then 'Bhool Bhulaiyya' in Hindi. The best thing about this movie was that unlike traditional films based on exorcism, it left the viewer to draw his/her own conclusions at the end. 'Paheli' was a good example of a ghost story blended with a romance.

However, real fantasy is an art that combines real human emotions and characters and situations that are purely a figment of the imagination and not encountered in the real world. One could have a story about aliens from outer space or vampires or elves and tell a compelling tale about love, truth, honor and justice as was beautifully illustrated in the Harry Potter series, 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy and in the Twilight saga.

India is a land of fabled myths, ancient civilization, mystics and many ethnic groups and languages. We could come up with lovely tales that could enthrall not just our country but the entire world.
There is a very important point though. We should encourage and adapt great books or commission elaborate screenplays based on short stories or folk tales.  Some of the best Hollywood movies are based on great books or are true stories that have been adapted for the big screen.

Commercial Indian cinema is often found lacking in a solid storyline and character development. It is here that great authors dominate. One can never sell a book without a convincing story and literary classics always have characters that invoke love, hate, mixed feelings and inspire or educate. There were a few adapted movies such as 'Devdas' and 'Parineeta' (adapted from Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novels), 'Omkara' (from Shakespeare's Othello) but most are not. Some movies end up with good scripts but many others flounder even with a talented cast because the very crux of the film is weak.

Hope Indian cinema fulfills its immense potential. In the world of imagination at least, there are no limits.

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