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New Age Cinema: A mingle between commercialism and realism
Manind | 01 Mar 2011

Bollywood has experienced numerous changes in its long journey. From silent cinema, to social dramas of the 50s to hardcore commercial cinema of today, Bollywood, presently, provides a happy mix of mainstream and parallel cinema.

BOLLYWOOD IS an eighty-year-old industry now. From Mother India to 3 Idiots, Bollywood has seen a world of change. From black and white to color and from mute to Dolby Digital, the change has been immense and unimaginable. A variety of characters, a plethora of stories and a range of music have adorned the silver screen.
 
It is widely agreed that cinema and movies are the passions of an Indian's life. As cricket can be seen being played in every nook and corner of the country, Hindi film music can be heard blaring loud from the loudspeakers in every locality. Cinema attracts and inspires alike over the ages. The youth can be commonly seen following the dressing or the hair styles donned by the film stars.
 
It can be well concluded from thus that films constitute an integral and inseparable part of our society and our lives. Vice-versa our films have also portrayed the gradual changes in our society and the schema of people.
 
As mocked at in a recent film Om Shanti Om, there was an era of cinema which appears melodramatic to the generations after. The characters used to shed tears at a drop of a hat and dialogue delivery used to be multitonous. Despite such peculiar play on emotions films used to gather crowd. Compared to the scene today, the display of emotions is more subtle and thus much more near to reality.
Earlier most of the emphasis used to lay upon the acting and expressions of the stars.
 
Now the film makers have started giving much more importance to the visual appeal of the film. A film is supposed to be aesthetically appealing also in order to be as complete package. Recent films like Race and the Dhoom series have sold solely on the basis of visual appeal. As lamented by the older generations, films nowadays are serving more sex and exposure than ever.
 
Heroines are wearing shorter and lesser clothes day by day. Earlier there used to be one Sharmila Tagore to dare and wear a bikini, now there are many Mallika Sherawats.
 
The hero has also broken out of the Mera-Bharat-Mahaan mode. Films like Rang De Basanti have characters which have no qualms about accepting that they don't like this country. And, as a matter of fact, audience relates to them! The stories today have a different way of dealing with patriotism, which still remains saleable. Stories have undercurrents of patriotism which is finer rather than over the top. For example Chak De India or Namaste London.
 
Earlier the script writers used to take ideas from the works of Rabindra Nath Tagore, Saratchandra, Vimal Mitra etc. Now they are often accused of lifting stories scene by scene from popular Hollywood flicks. Latest in the row were Hey Baby,Partner, We are Family and so many more.The difference between parallel and commercial cinema is also diminishing film by film. Directors like Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen saw little box office success.
 
But now the new breed of directors is able to attract audience for films made on serious issues. For e.g. Maqbool and Omkara by Vishal Bharadwaj and Page 3 and Corporate by Madhur Bhandarkar.
 
Films have always depicted the social trends, and here is where another difference can be spotted. The hero was patriotic at the time India was fighting for independence. But as the glory of independence faded and the novelty of being and independent nation died, the society awakened to find itself amidst a poor system and social corruption. Then films like 'UPKAAR' and ROTI KAPDA OR MAKAAN were made.
 
Slowly with society's futile attempts to doctor the system, the hero of the Indian cinema became the angry young man. He had no trust in the system and relied more on his actions. Films like 'ANDHA KANOON' and for that matter most of the
Amitabh Bacchan films of that era.
 
With the economic progress of India, the filmy hero left the cycle and drove a bike and then a car. The major problems in protagonist's life changed from financial to romantic. The Indo-China war revived the wave of patriotism in people. Films like 'HAQIQAT' were made then. Similarly when the war in Kargil triggered, 'BORDER, was released which banked upon the revived patriotic feeling in the audience.With the onset of 80's, the joint families of India were on the verge of breaking as nuclear families were becoming popular.
 
Then, to rekindle Indian culture films like 'GHAR EK MANDIR' and 'ASHIRVAAD' were made and gained popularity. As the phenomena of NRI's i.e. Indians settling abroad surfaced, film's backdrop, setting and plot changed accordingly. For e.g. 'DILWALE DULHANIYA LE JAENGE' and 'KABHI KHUSHI KABHI GHAM'. And the latest trend is to set the film abroad as to add to the visual appeal of the film by shooting only at the foreign locales.
 
There are no clear demarcations between good or bad now, as there were in earlier films in the roles of the villain and the hero. Characters today have various shades of grey. Now the protagonist is a cunning antihero who can use any means to get what he wants. For example 'BUNTY OR BABLI', 'BLUFFMASTER' and 'BEING CYRUS'.
 
The medium is used for more than entertainment, it is used to highlight prevalent issues and sometimes to throw open new issues for the public.New ideas, the enthusiasm of youth and a sense of freedom are brought into Indian cinema with the help of New Wave Cinema.
 
The cinema borrowed heavily from the literature of the times, thus became an important study of the contemporary Indian society, and is now used by scholars and historians alike to gauge the changing demographics and socio-economic as well political temperament of the Indian people.

Parallel cinema also provided the much needed platform to a whole breed of young actors and directors, as the likes of Smita Patil, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Amrish Puri, Pankaj Kapur, Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi. Even the renowned commercial film actors like Rekha, Hema Malini also ventured into Art cinema to test and get acknowledgment of their acting skills from the very critics.
 
Today, it must be made as independent films on a shoe string budget by aspiring amateurs. But the rising costs involved in film production in today’s time and the commercialization of the films have had a negative impact on the so called art-films. Since there are less of art film audiences in India unlike the western world, investment returns cannot be guaranteed, making art films less popular amongst filmmakers.

Still the hope and enthusiasm can be seen, the recent movies which can be attributed to parallel cinema are: Dor, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, Joggers’ Park, Chandni Bar, Dharm, Chameli and the very recent Dhobi Ghat. The audience is maturing, they have started accepting and even demanding offbeat cinema wrapped in the flavor of commercial cinema. It is time for some good cinema!