The Advent of Bollywood’s New Age

There were times when dancing around trees was the best dance form audiences knew. There were times when Bollywood’s serial kisser, Emraan Hashmi stood no chance because lips met behind flowers. And there were times when Bollywood was as spiced up as Indian cuisine (that is where the term ‘masala films’ comes from).

But as I said, those were just the times. That over-the-top spicing up of the genres is not what we expect today as we sit before the silver screen. Neither do we get it, given the trend that the new age cinema has ushered in. How many times have you felt after coming out of the theatre that ‘this was my story’, ‘this is how I want to live’ or ‘now that is what I call creativity’? As far as the recent times are taken into account, probably many.  
However, the masala flick directors have overdone it. There were times when actors did not need a strong script. They needed romantic numbers, six-pack abs and a pretty damsel. There were movies like Dabangg and Wanted which tore apart the box-office records. Now there are Himmatwala and Bullett Raja; and the audience seems saturated. There was Peepli Live and Love Sex Dhoka, and now there is Kai Po Che and Udaan and we want them all, over and over again. The saturation has yet not seeped in, maybe. There is Katrina Kaif whose career is solely based on her pretty face and Ooh-la-la curves and then there is the Ooh-la-la girl herself; or lady I must say; Vidya Balan who has made a mark through movies like Kahaani and Paa. And most of us would agree that Kahaani made a more engaging watch than Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

The audience went gaga when Dil Chahta Hai came up with the theme of bromance. The movie developed the three characters individually, giving all of them a good share of the screen. Other films that followed the concept were Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Fukrey, Grand Masti, Kai Po Che and more. The target audience being the youth, immediately connected with the overtone of friendship beneath the scintillating plots.

Who could ever imagine that any Bollywood movie would work with a female lead solely bearing the weight on her shoulders? But it did. Sujoy Ghosh did it with Kahaani, and Subhash Ghai did it with Kaanchi. And we gave them the green signal. Women-centric films are therefore, the new cool.

Also, low budget films did not really stand a chance unless flicks like Bheja Fry and Lunchbox proved us wrong. A highly-acclaimed movie, Lunchbox left us awed at the very concept of the love story. Life In a…Metro was another such movie, a love story at heart, with undercurrents of betrayal, regret, forgiveness, and elements that brewed together to make up, well, a life in a metro.

Thus with filmmakers following a herd mentality while repeating the same success formula umpteen times, the new age cinema has slowly crept into the scene and claimed a stand. Gone are the times when the audience did not want to employ their brains into what is going on in the movie. Welcome to the times when Jessica Lall is accepted as a daughter in every home and the sorrow of her family resonates with ours. Welcome to the times when Rohan’s fight against his ‘Sir’ (Udaan) brews up the adrenaline within us too.

It is, therefore, the new age; the formula is the reality. The likes of Abhay Deol and Vidya Balan, who have kicked off their career with such films, are the torch-bearers the cinema needs and might just thrive on in the coming decades. The characters are simple, as simple as you and I. The plots are lucid yet depict the complexity of life. Thus cinema will no more be about grossing success at the box office. Stories will touch our hearts and appeal to our minds. Glitzy item numbers will not be all that one would look forward to. And the era of new age cinema will thus descend.

Next in line is Yeh Hai Bakrapur by Janaki Vshwanathan set to release on May 9. The film is a social satire on the complex beliefs in rural India. The story revolves around a goat named Shahrukh who acquires a rockstar status in the village. What remains to be seen is whether the movie keeps up to its theme and becomes another feather in the cap for the genre of new age cinema.
By Ragni Nathani 

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