When was the last time Abhishek Bachchan genuinely lit up the screen with his acting? He can act, alright. We have seen the rise of Bachchan junior, his greatest hits and the joke that he has become now. And through the crests and troughs of his career, we cannot forget the rusty young goon, Lallan Singh from Yuva, or the adorable conman Bunty from the 2005 commercial flick Bunty Aur Babli? Those were the days when the actor was taken seriously, signed the right scripts and thoroughly entertained the masses with his well-received and highly acclaimed films. Today, however, he has changed courses with blink-and-you-miss films. And we have to keep up with duds like All Is Well.
Perhaps the nerve of any film, is its script. A script can exist regardless of props, an exotic locale and a renowned face. Powerful performance, of course, is a prerequisite. Bollywood, lately, has been serving us on a platter degenerated scripts and disappointing stories. I am not talking about the few occasional films that have earned big moolah by the sheer stroke of (good) luck.
In 2006, there came a cult film that changed the very thinking of Indian filmmaking. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s ambitious project Rang De Basanti made its way to our hearts and etched itself on our minds, courtesy its captivating story, a commanding script and a regular star cast (barring Khan, of course).
A group of indolent students awaken when they shoot for a documentary film on India’s freedom fighters. A personal loss and corruption incite their dormant patriotism and they end up doing the extraordinary. This laudable project cannot be recreated or rehashed because it was pure genius that consecrated us. When the past ran parallel with the present, our own cathartic emotions found a channel. There cannot be another RDB, not in this lifetime.
In the year 2004, Ashutosh Gowariker gave us Swades. The film, essentially made on the concept of brain drain, touched the right chords with the better Indian.
An Indian working with NASA in United States, slowly gets pulled to his roots, when an unplanned trip to his native land throws him on the crossroads of (grim) reality, a sense of calling and a promising future. While Aamir Khan has been known for being finicky with his scripts, his counterpart Shah Rukh Khan, is touted as Bollywood’s romantic hero. With many commercial hits to his credit, Swades was inimitably distinct, special and one of his all-time best movies.
Sadly, Bollywood is losing is edge, or so it seems. The year that went by, was dismally abysmal. With the likes of Dilwale and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo cashing in solely on the veteran actors’ goodwill, it can be safe to say that the industry has strayed from exemplary scripts and meaningful stories. And barring the Highways (2014), the Angry Indian Goddesses (2015), the Aligarhs (2016) and the Neerjas (2016), nothing substantial has been put up for consumption, lately.