Written by Guest Contributor : Tazeen Syeda
The song Dancing Queen from Mamma Mia the movie was playing on the home theatre when Meena entered the house. Her niece Summer’s eyes were glued to the screen food abandoned and the 13 year synchronising her voice with the song.
Meena shook her head and switched off the television. She chasticised her niece for being lost in the movie and not eating her food. Summer got angry and stomped away to sit on the swing in the garden. Meena joined her niece and patted her head “Don’t think I don’t understand your obsession with movies I was your age once” Summer turned and gave her a doubtful look. “you didn’t watch the same movies as I do… And your bollywood movies have only family drama no varity” she taunted.
Bollywood is not a defining factor for movies made in India
Meena laughed “that’s very ignorant of you sweetheart, Bollywood is not a defining factor for movies made in India” she replied. Summer looked at her quizically “its not” she asked “Well it was known as Hindi Cinema before India overtook the United States as the world’s largest film producer and was dubbed Bollywood in the 1970s” Meena continued “But Hindi Cinema goes way back to 1913 when ‘Raja Harishchandra’ the first silent feature film was made in India” Summer was surprised and tried to hide the interest her aunt had created Meena smiled and continued “ in 1931 ‘Alam Ara’ was released it was the first indian sound film and a commercial success and in 1937 ‘Kisan Kanya’ the first color film in Hindi”. Summer was impressed but didn’t want to show it“I bet they were all family dramas” she huffed.
“Well family drama is a genre that was adopted recently in Bollywood. The years between 1940 to 1960 was called the golden age of Hindi Cinema. A list of critically acclaimed movies were produced during this time for example ‘Pyaasa’ a story of a talented but unsuccessful poet whose life and death is exploited by his family and friends. ‘Kagaaz ke phool’ was about a successful director whose life takes a wrong turn leading to his personal tragedy. ‘Awara’ a movie that explores ‘nature or nurture shaping human behaviour’.
‘Sree 420’ is a story of a poor country bum moving to a city and getting caught up in shiny but corrupt lifestyle. ‘Aan’ depicts the struggle between the Royal family and a local village hero.
‘Mother India’ an epic movie story of the struggles of a mother to sustain her life and that of her kids after the husband abandons the family. ‘Mughal – e – Azam’ an imaginary love story between Prince Salim son of King Akbar and a courtesan.
‘Madhumati’ first indian movies that explored the concept of reincarnation. Or ‘Ganga Jamuna’ which was a crime drama showcasing the struggle between two brothers on the opposite sides of the law each upholding their version of truth.
‘Wow’ Amazed Summer.
“In the late 60’s and early 70’s a flood of romance movies and action movies graced the Big Screen The famouse “Angry young man” image was created” Meena added “So how come now a days we see more masala movies Aunt meena?” summer questioned “Well romance, action and family have been a part of many indian movies for a long time but they had a certain mix that changed in the 1970s when multiple genres like action, comedy, romance, drama, melodrama, musical were combined to create Masala film.
‘Yaadon Ki Baarat’ was the first masala film and ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ was a landmark for the masala film genre.
With ‘Sholey’ the western Genra was introduced into hindi movies” Meena replied “interesting” exclaimed summer “Cinema in India has reflected, to some extent, the mindset of the times. From movies potraying freedom struggle, or the struggles of the farmers in villages, unemployement, social and women’s issues to todays modern millinial existence issues. The new Bollywood era from 1990 to the present has offered us many shades. In the late 80’s and early 90’s movies become family centric or romantic musicals like ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat tak’, ‘Maine Pyar kiya’, ‘Chandini’, ‘Hum aapke hai koun’, ‘Dilwaley Dulhaniya ley jaye gey’, ‘Raja Hindustani’, ‘Dil to pagal hai’, ‘Kuch Kuch hota hai’ etc. There were also some action movies creating a separation in action and family movies – some of the action movies were ‘Ghayal’, ‘Meri Jung’, ‘Parinda’, ‘Khilidi’ ‘Satya’ etc.” Meena continued “So what do you call the current movie trend” questioned Summer ‘Well I call it experimenting many still address social issues, some spin fantacies, but some recent movies with historical background such as Jodha Akbar, Bajirao Mastani etc have created great interest in people from other countries in Indian Cinema” Replied Meena She sighed and concluded “Indian Cinema is a vast treasure my darling if you want to really explore it you need to give it time and dedication, so lets go in and indulge in some exploration” Summer and meena returned to the kitchen for a tea and more conversation.