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Quantity + Lack of Originality = Bollywood

Why Bollywood produces the most films and the least awards.

Bollywood produced 1091 films in 2006, 1132 in 2007, nobody had the guts to calculate for 2008, nobody has had the guts to calculate for 2009, and 2010, it seems, is already on the verge of breaking the record… so why wouldn’t you know about BOLLYWOOD?

When it comes to the largest film industries in the world, there are only two:  Hollywood, and, yes, you guessed it, or maybe you didn’t, but I’m assuming you did, because if you didn’t it would hurt… hold on. Why wouldn’t you? It’s the world’s largest film producing Industry… bigger than Hollywood… why wouldn’t you? How could one possibly not know about it? Bollywood produced 1091 films in 2006, 1132 in 2007, nobody had the guts to calculate for 2008, nobody has had the guts to calculate for 2009, and 2010, it seems, is already on the verge of breaking the record… so why wouldn’t you know about BOLLYWOOD?

Oh. Looks like I missed a point. Bollywood is the world’s largest film PRODUCER. This statement simply means that Bollywood produces the MAXIMUM NUMBER OF FILMS each year. However, the largest film INDUSTRY in the world, is Hollywood. This means that Hollywood EARNS THE MOST MONEY.

They earn more money than us? Why?bollywood 300x182 Quantity + Lack of Originality = Bollywood

Most people attribute this to the fact that Hollywood has a universal appeal, language-wise, but I do not agree. I think for a country that produces more than double the number of films Hollywood produces, it should easily get worldwide attention. Like, EASILY. But somehow, in this world of cinema-lovers and Bollywood-haters, Bollywood is just lost, lost deep in some unknown ocean… the only question is: Why?

Why did Bollywood lose the race?

Ha! You got me for a minute there. Smart question, fellow.

Pat yourself on the back. Now now – do pat yourself. It really is a smart question…

Have you ever seen a Bollywood film? Which one did you see? Rang De Basanti? 3 Idiots? Kal Ho Naa Ho? Munnabhai MBBS? Swades? Chak De India? Dev.D? I guess if you’ve seen these films, you must have a pretty good impression of the film industry. You’re wondering again, aren’t you, why is the world so stupid as to ignore Bollywood? These are the gems of the Bollywood industry. Each of these films have mostly come out in separate years, and they’re called “gems” because in their own year, they were the one out of 1000+ movies produced. Good morning.

Quality versus Quantity?

There is only one difference between Bollywood and Hollywood – Ok, two if you consider the language – that Hollywood is all about ‘Quality’ and Bollywood is all about ‘Quantity’. One of the articles I read online, apparently written by a non-Indian, says that “…Indians are in love with movies, even though most films follow a similar format called masala (the word for a collection of spices)…”. Clearly, the writer has no idea what “masala” implies. “Masala” does mean “a collection of spices”, but what the writer doesn’t know is that whilst masala adds flavor to the food, without adding any nutritional value, and only makes the food sumptuous, “masala” in Bollywood is not a ‘format’, but a metaphorical term implying the basic character of a  Bollywood film. Masala doesn’t make a Bollywood film good, it just makes it look good. Some examples of masala in Bollywood films are exaggeration of emotions, overly-sentimental scenes, song-and-dance sequences (even in the middle of the street, with the actors lip-singing a song sung by an artist), superbly-impossible coincidences that are mostly the ways of getting to the climax, simply justified as “fate”, etc.

Rang De Basanti? 3 Idiots? Kal Ho Naa Ho? Munnabhai MBBS? Swades? Chak De India? Dev.D? These are the gems of the Bollywood industry. Each of these films have mostly come out in separate years, and they’re called “gems” because in their own year, they were the one out of 1000+ movies produced.

Mass production of films based on the same ol’ formulas:

Bollywood spends so much time on developing more, more and more projects, that it forgets to spend time on the project itself ! An industry that produces around 100 of the 1000+ films produced by the country, on an average, produces one film every three and a half days. Now if you think of it, assuming that the shoots take around half the time, thats 1.75 days gone. The post-production period, let as assume, takes a third of the time. Another day gone. With 1.25 days in pocket, the film is edited, finalized, the music is composed, then it’s promoted, and finally, released. What I’m wondering is, where is the process dedicated to just FRAMING a proper story, with a proper plot, with plausible charaterisations and logical sequences ? I met someone from the industry the other daywho told me that before a film’s shoot is started, everything should be a hundred percent: script, story line, choice of actors, the plot, etc. In Bollywood, a counted few bother about that. No wonder there are barely 1, 2, or maybe 3 films a year that leave an impression.

Lack of foresight and individuality:

Another component is the concept of the film itself, for in Bollywood, there are not too many films which have an original and unique concept. Bollywood is always original when it comes to Love Stories, and their latest venture in this field has made me say “I hate love stories”, or at least, the ones made in Bollywood. Bollywood takes brilliant concepts from Hollywood, and adds the famous “masala” to them, scripts them poorly, and turns them into trash. What they don’t understand is that Hollywood produces a film with a totally different character, so how can you mix one character with another, of a totally different type, and expect it to work? Imagine putting two people with entirely different characters in the same room, and telling them to become one.

Basically, impossible.

We have all become film critics:

But somehow Bollywood does it, and yes, it doesn’t work. Sadly, the Indian audience, oh wait, I can’t say audience (I’ll tell you why later), the Indian ‘viewers’ have been fed with so much of the “masala” that now they can’t do without it.So even films like 3 Idiots or Kaminey, having good concepts, good scripts, and great directors, needed “masala”. That is because the directors are smart, and they know what gets the audience – oops – viewers. And it is due to this force-feeding of “masala” that the “audience” is no longer an “audience”, since today, everyone has become transformed into a film critic!

Everyone walks out of the cinema, criticizing some aspect of the film! Some say the acting was poor, some say the story was not up to the mark, others say that it was a good film (which is also criticism!), some say it lacked “something”, etc. THERE IS NO AUDIENCE TODAY! There are only 1 billion film critics.

Bollywood just punched itself in the stomach.

There is so much to say, but I’ll sign off for right now.

To conclude, one very simple fact sums up the condition of Bollywood: For an industry that produces more than double the films produced in Hollywood, and more films than any industry in the entire world, it is devastating that it has just about 3 Oscar-nominations, and 0 Oscars to its credit. In 53 years of producing more than 40000 films, in a country of 1 billion people and very few thinkers, with amazing history, mind-blowing legends and mythologies, complex politics, enriching history, oldest known land settlement, (none of which have been transformed by film makers into an unforgettable film), we’re still looking for, and waiting for, a film that’ll be the turning point in the world’s largest film producing industry, Bollywood.

The Indian viewers have been fed with so much of the “masala” that now they can’t do without it, so even films like 3 Idiots or Kaminey, having good concepts, good scripts, and great directors, needed “masala”. That is because the directors are smart, and they know what gets the audience – oops – viewers.

pixel Quantity + Lack of Originality = Bollywood

About Prateek Modi

Prateek started Bollykings.com in 2008 because he was bored. Since he loves movies, he thought, why not blog about them? When he is not running around trying to keep his website together, he is usually lost in a world of his own. Follow him on Google+.

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8 Responses to Quantity + Lack of Originality = Bollywood

  1. Prateek Em December 16, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    I really feel that this chap has a point. Guzaarish, was a master piece of Bansali and I wonder why it couldn't hit the theaters for a longer period. As far as our reports (bollykings.com) goes, the movie could only do good in the METROPOLITAN cities.

    I really feel that directors are making films to rake up money with the masala factor and concentrate less on the substantial aspects of the movie.

    • Jaskunwar December 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

      Yes yes yes. Directors are just hell bent on MAKING a film. Movies that have depended on masala have been too many. Recently, Break ke Baad, Anjaana Anjaani, I Hate Luv Storys… etc. What they forget is, a poor script has no way to redeem the movie.!

  2. Mah December 16, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    And why do need to get so apologetic about the formula and masala? Isn't it what every Indian thrives on? It sets us apart and the masala only makes the dish tastier … who want's it bland? The only things missing in Indian movies is the technology and technical know how which is immensely lacking as compared to other (western) countries.

    • Jaskunwar December 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

      So the point made here is that we are TOO addicted to masala to let go of it. That's why even the smart directors want to put masala in. The sad part about the masala is that it often becomes the X Factor responsible for a movie being hit or a flop. A wonder like Guzaarish proved to be a flop. Wow. Reason? Don't really know. But what we know is that… there was no masala in it.

    • Abhishek Modi December 18, 2010 at 11:22 am #

      Hey Mah,

      Nobody is apologetic about the whole formula of MASALA hindi pics or desi hindi pics. But even I really feel that we as Indians really need to improve our standards of hindi film making and start comparing our selves with the world. I know there are some audiences which only want masala pics and songs like shiela ki jaawani etc, but you can't ignore the acting done by Hrithik Roshan in Guzaarish. The work done by him was commendable, but then is was not given due importance. WHY? because the movie lacked masala ITEM number or maybe the cheap comedy which we are so used to!!!

      I really think our bollywood industry has a lot of work to be done and one of the ways to start is reducing the number of movies made per year!!

      • Mah December 19, 2010 at 6:01 am #

        @Abhishek, I don't understand your point here. Are you suggesting that we make better movies ("I really feel that we as Indians really need to improve our standards of hindi film making and start comparing our selves with the world") or do you mean that audience and media should improve their tastes ("you can't ignore the acting done by Hrithik Roshan in Guzaarish. The work done by him was commendable, but then is was not given due importance.")? Movies like Guzaarish and Phas Gaye Re Obama reveal the change in style and treatment… and that the stories are also fresh as can be. How the movie fares at the BO is definitely a different matter. Movies like Guzaarish can only work in metros for obvious reasons. As for the fact that there are so few movies which are good – agreed, still nowadays there is a neat mix of different genres… and slowly all directors and production houses are experimenting within their own range. Reducing the number of movies produced may or may not have an effect on this – but yes RGV should certainly think about the quality vs. quantity debate LOL.

        • Jaskunwar December 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

          Exactly! See, you're getting the point. :)

  3. Prateek Em December 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    I really feel that this chap has a point. Guzaarish, was a master piece of Bansali and I wonder why it couldn't run in the theaters for a longer period. As far as our reports (bollykings.com) goes, the movie could only do good in the METROPOLITAN cities of India.

    I really feel that directors are making films to rake up money with the masala factor and concentrate less on the substantial aspects of the movie.

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