Entertainment: Are You Ready For Bollywood?

by Ranjeet Chugh

Ranjeet Chugh is a Dubai based Marketing Professional and a freelance writer of Indian Cinema.

Bollywood is the informal name given to the popular Mumbai-based film industry in India. Bollywood is also commonly referred to as "Hindi cinema". Songs often use Urdu vocabulary and English is heard more and more often in dialogues and songs.

Bollywood is the world's largest producer of films, more than a thousand every year. With the huge number of Non Resident Indians living all over the world, Indian films are doing fantastic business in Canada, UK,USA & South East Asia.

Recent cross-over movies have helped Bollywood cinema become more popular with non-Indian audiences. Films like East is East, Bollywood Hollywood (directed by Toronto 's Deepa Mehta), Monsoon Wedding, Bride & Prejudice and Bend It Like Beckam mainly have Indian and Hollywood actors and are made with the cultural blend of East and West.

In the late 1990s, Indian films began making their mark on the global box office. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, a love story about an ethnic Indian woman, grossed over USD 7 million in three months in the UK, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, about enduring and endearing love, collected about USD 6 million in a little over two months.

Today the market for Indian films in western countries is strong and growing. Indian producers now export films to New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Tanzania, Kenya, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Debates are on, loudly discussing what makes a film acceptable to western audiences. The formula seems to be a witty, tight script, fantastic imagery and no unneeded emotions. Indian marriages are colorful. Dramatic comedies in Indian settings with a Metro (urban) lifestyle seem to work well. Mythology, literary works and insights into immigrant lifestyle seem to work well.

Top 5 films of 2004

1) Hum Tum : A fresh love story starring Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee was a hit all over India and did great business overseas. The story revolved around Saif and Rani who meet each other in different phases of their lives and then fall in love. It is more mature than the usual "boy meets girl and they fall in love" story. The music is refreshing and urban. Saif has always worked in double hero movies. With Hum Tum he has proved that he can carry a solo hit as well. When you see Saif act, he is a complete natural and in many scenes his comic timing and dialogue delivery reminds you of British actor Hugh Grant.

2) Veer Zara was the second biggest hit after Murder in India and the biggest hit of 2004 overseas. This 'love legend' spanning 22 years and 2 countries had excellent performances by Shahrukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee. Veer (Shahrukh Khan) is an Indian working for the airforce and Zara (Preity Zinta) is a Pakistani girl. Circumstances separate them, but their love triumphs in the end. Director Yash Chopra's last movie was Dil toh pagal hai in 1997.

3) Khakee,an out-and-out action film, depicts bravery and courage in the Indian Police force. This cop saga features gripping direction and a brilliant performance by superstar Amitabh Bachchan. Director Raj Kumar Santoshi proved once again that he could inspire good performances from his cast, which included Ajay Devgan and Akshay Kumar.

4) Mujhse Shaadi Karogi : A complete entertainer with songs, romance and comedy - all the ingredients Bollywood films are known for. The story revolves around Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar competing for the heart of Priyanka Chopra. Until the end, the viewer keeps guessing who wins the girl.

5) Dhoom : Like Hollywood 's The Fast and the Furious, Dhoom is a film with racy music and good action. This slick, fast-paced movie starring Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham and Uday Chopra is about a gang of robbers on fast bikes and the cop (Abhishek Bachchan) who is chasing them. Pop singer Tata Young makes her Bollywood debut singing the title track (English Version).

2004: The Year that Was

Actor Salman Khan went on a riot, one movie after another. His Mujhse Shaadi Karogi was a big hit that proved David Dhawan is one of the best directors in comedy. Garv also hit the bull's eye as the masses lapped up this cop story. But Phir Milenge and Dil ne jise Apna kaha were turkeys at the box office.

Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai's Bollywood bride act in Bride & Prejudice, Gurinder Chadha's celluloid version of Jane Austen's classic novel, was accepted by the overseas audiences but the Hindi version was rejected totally in India.

On the other hand, Rani Mukherjee reigned supreme with Hum Tum and Veer Zaara. The Mukherjee girl has kept a very low profile in spite of all her hits, but Rani has a very good chance of winning her first best actress award this year for Hum Tum.

Kareena Kapoor played a prostitute to perfection in Chameli. Of her other films, Fida bombed at the box office and Aitraaz proved to be an average grosser.

Murder was the biggest box office hit of 2004 but the failure of its many imitators including Julie, Tauba Tauba and Ab Bas proves that audiences accept a good film and reject a bad one and that sex does not always sell. Murder based on the Hollywood flick "The Unfaithful", is not in my top 5 list of films because it relies on skin show instead of script and content.

Main Hoon Na proved Shahrukh Khan's magic once again. Without him, the film falls flat on its face.

The surprise hit of the year was Dhoom. Abhishek Bachchan finally tasted success after a long time but the real star of the film was John Abraham who played the bad guy.

The biggest disappointment of the year 2004 was Swades by the trusted director of Lagaan, Ashutosh Gowarikar, whose slow paced 'We, The People' saga was rejected by the people as the movie doesn't work on any level, be it the music, the narrative or the actors.

As in Hollywood, Bollywood stars are very much in the public eye, drawing huge crowds wherever they go. The intimate details of their lives are watched by the public and sometimes they can get into some very interesting trouble.

Bollywood's dark side was once again exposed by upcoming actress Preeti Jain when she accused famous director Madhur Bhandarkar of rape. The news was in headlines of all the leading papers. The film folks were in shock and disbelief that the casting couch still exists. Preeti insists that Madhur Bhandarkar promised her roles in his films and then left her high and dry after sleeping with her for more than a year. Madhur of course denies all the allegations and pleads not guilty.

What exactly have parent-child relationships come to in showbiz? Ask the goose that laid the golden egg. Amisha Patel moved her loyalties completely to director Vikram Bhatt and sued her parents for spending her hard-earned money on ventures she didn't really know about. Amisha claims that she has been duped of all the money she earned, her parents on the other hand blame Director Vikram Bhatt (Amisha's alleged boyfriend) for using their daughter for his personal benefits. Who says blood is thicker than water-anything is possible in Bollywood.

CNM