Over-the-top, unbelievably fantastical, drastically unrealistic, to name a few, are some of the adjectives attributed to the typical Bollywood masala film. The dancing around trees, the emotional families with a passion for melodrama, the invincibility of the ‘good guys’ and the perfect appearances are all panned for being too far removed from the real world. My question is, why should art necessarily imitate life? The works of great artists like Van Gogh and Nicholas Roerich weren’t perfect portrayals of their subjects and yet the fact that they’re magnificent is undeniable. Similarly, the beauty of a Bollywood masala film lies in its absolute lack of connection with reality. These films grant us an opportunity to imagine a life that is realistically unattainable. The mantra is ‘pigs can indeed fly’, that is, one is not bound by the confines of the physical world, nor limited by the mental, emotional and physical capabilities of human beings, and one certainly needn’t consider the probable consequences of one’s actions. In short, they represent freedom as never known before. I, for one, lament the fact that I will never be wooed by a man who is never without a crew of trained dancers, a band and the irrevocable right to perform anywhere and everywhere without the fear of consequences. The point that he would not be a singer, dancer, and superman all rolled into one serves only to add to my gloom. Life would be so much easier if a song, no matter how corny, magically transported me to any of the most exotic locations in the world. One simple dance step would do away with the necessity of visas, passports, tickets, planes and even jet-lag! If I knew that not even the greatest catastrophe in the world could leave me with more than a white bandage with a single spot of blood tied around my head, I would be filled with an empowering sense of indestructibility. The advantages of always looking my best anywhere, no matter how obscure the place, and at any time, no matter how ungodly the hour, are fairly obvious. Perfectly styled hair, impeccable make-up and an inexhaustible wardrobe, what more could I ask for? However, nothing compares to the assurance of a happy ending. With life’s disturbing unpredictability and uncertainty, a confirmed ‘happily ever after’ would provide eternal bliss. I would live for the joy of living without the anxiety regarding an unforeseen, potentially disastrous future.This strange world that exists only in masala philums is distinctly better than the world I am acquainted with. When I enter a movie hall, I aim at leaving behind the drudgery of ‘real life’ and instead immerse myself in a dreamy world where impossible is nothing. For a few hours I completely desist from dwelling on the complexities of life, the darkness that shrouds mankind and the imminent doomsday; rather, I opt for pure, brainless entertainment. I don’t, in any way whatsoever, seek to propagate the ‘ignorance is bliss’ theory but, in my opinion, reality is in our faces 24/7 so why not take a breather? Newspapers, news channels and indeed just a walk down the road can serve as agents of the hard-hitting reality of our world today. The charm of masala movies lies in their absolute disregard for this reality. So the next time you watch a Bollywood masala movie, try to recognize the genius, the great imaginative potential behind the hilarious, albeit a bit warped, portrayal of larger-than-life characters leading extraordinary lives.