Recreating history or deliberating the societal concepts, has been a very crucial, if not commercial part of Bollywood since 1960s. Realism was a bastion of parallel cinema in the 60s, 70s and 80s, with filmmakers like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani capturing the pulse of contemporary social issues in astutely realistic films, such as Manthan, Ardh Satya, Aakrosh. However, this trend is getting capitulated in the recent wave of Bollywood cinema.
However, the question that arises is that whether these films are being produced for the noble cause of societal awareness, or is it the latest flavour of the society?
With the latest release of Sarabjit directed by Omung Kumar, the list of the movies that take inspiration from ‘real events’, have been taken up a notch. Of late, major production houses are successfully helming realistic movies, for instance, Neerja, Airlift, Azhar, Mary Kom, Aligarh, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and many more. However, these kind of autobiographical movies have recently enthralled the audience in majority. And with such upsurge love towards this kind of realistic cinema that overshadows the mainstream entertainment cinema, the production houses aren’t shy away from experimenting.
The encouragement and the approval of mainstream commercial stars to be a part of such parallel cinema, undoubtedly adds to the advantage of these production houses. Not only are they catering to the intelligentsia of the population, but they are also managing to enter many crores clubs due to the commercial value of popular stars.
Surprisingly, our commercial Hindi cinema is celebrated for its over-the-top depiction of families, lavish lifestyle and ludicrous comedy, why is there such a major drift?
We tend to accept the escapist cinema much more than parallel cinema, which might make us ponder over society. With the burden of movies being ‘paisa vasool’ riding high on the backs of the major production houses, the reluctance for the making of art cinema is understood.
However, over the past few years, Bollywood appears to have found a market for realism, thus the reluctance is fading away, when movies such as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Special 26, Mary Kom receive critical as well as commercial success. The flavour of the society is changing, and so are the filmic deliveries.
The recent hobnobbing with reality has seemed to pay well, as both the commercial houses and movie stars are riding high on the bandwagon. This recent development also exhibits the change in the taste and the meaning of art for the new generation movie-goers. People would want to watch substantial cinema rather than larger than life depiction of dramatic events.
What remains to be answered is whether these movies are being made because the filmmakers really want some change in the society or because it assures them of big bucks? Has the appreciation for artistic cinema has increased? Are we, at last, trying to move away from the stereotypical cinema that promises life is good for all?