The Toxicity of Bollywood

By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee

In the late 1960s when I was studying in Kolkata, I went along with another Mauritian student and an Indian friend of his to see an Indian film. After we had the tickets in hand, the Indian guy said: ‘When you buy the ticket to see an Indian film, leave your brains at the counter.’ By which I suspect he meant that the film(s) had low content value and that one should just enjoy the – love-triangle or often convoluted – story line, and songs and dances that were invariably a feature of these films. As he was much older to us (in his 30s) and definitely more knowledgeable about his country and its institutions, we took his words for granted. Not that I was a great fan of the films from Bombay.

According to Wikipedia, the term Bollywood was coined afterwards, in the 1970s, ‘when the conventions of commercial Hindi films were defined. Key to this was the masala film, which combines a number of genres (action, comedy, romance, drama, melodrama, and musical).’ And so indeed most of them were, the core objective being commercial, that is, to make money, which remains so to this day.

It goes without saying that all the players in the industry – from the script-writer to the producer and director and the actors and other minions – were driven by this mindset. Nothing wrong with that because everyone has to make a living, and in a system of cut-throat competition ethics gets short-shrifted.

During what was deemed to be the ‘golden period’ of the industry, the 1940s and 50s, and probably until the early 1980s, never mind the ethics but at least there was some regard for decency in the depiction of courtship or love scenes. Facial expressions and eye-play along with suggestive bodily gestures were enough to symbolize, depict or arouse the more sublime emotions, so that families with young children could watch a movie together. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 19 August 2022

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