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Bollywood celebrates 100th birthday

04-28-2013 16:01 BJT

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Bollywood is celebrating 100 years since the first all-Indian feature film, "Raja Harishchandra", appeared on a cinema screen in Mumbai. It spawned a nation of movie-mad Indians and a vibrant film industry, known for its musical hits and romantic escapism. But some fear modern cinema has become shallow and formulaic.

Bollywood is turning 100 years old, and what better way to celebrate than with a catchy song and dance. India produces more than a thousand films and sells more than 3 billion cinema tickets in a year. The industry is flourishing with revenues quickly growing, led by colourful Hindi-language Bollywood.

"Basically I think Hindi films are part of our lives since we’re born," film critic Anupama Chopra said. "The songs play at our birthday parties; they play at our weddings. So they kind of permeate and punctuate our lives."

Music may be crucial to films today, but it started with this: the silent, black-and-white tale of a virtuous king from Hindu mythology. Women acting was in those days widely frowned upon so the characters here are in fact men in drag. It couldn’t be more different from modern Bollywood’s romantic escapism. But some fear the industry has dumbed down and become too superficial.

"I would say the search is still for that Indian narrative. And the filmmakers of India have not done justice, as we progress, to India, by capturing the complex issues, and that’s what storytellers essentially have to do," said producer and director Mahesh Bhatt.

A new crop of experimental filmmakers is emerging. They include directors who made film "Bombay Talkies" to mark the centenary - a collection of short films celebrating India’s love of cinema. Directors are trying out new themes and genres. Even India’s first zombie movies are coming up.

I think the change has already started and I think it’s just going to get bigger," said Raj Nidimoru, director of Zombie film "Go Goa Gone". "This is a ripple now. It’s going to become a wave. Because if films, if new filmmakers start to attempt new themes, and if they work, and the audience appreciate it, the producers will start to back more."

As it enters a second century, it seems traditional Bollywood may no longer be enough to keep modern India satisfied.


Editor:Zhou Minxi |Source:

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