Bollywood – Cinema of Melodramatic Musicals

Melodrama and music are key ingridients of Bollywood. Very few movies, mostly parallel cinema, try to be different – but mainstream film makers and masses both love the ‘masala’. And why not, if rightly positioned, a few melodramatic scenes or a few good songs and vibrant dance sequences can make the movie a runaway success at box office.

Mingling the music and melodrama in a movie elegantly is an art – there may exist so called ‘formulas’ which sell, but they alone can’t gaurantee a well made and hit movie – it requires creativity, innovation and knack of combining these elements together in a wholesome package which satisfies. And the art lies in doing this well… Movies like Sholay, Shaan, Om Shanti Om and Singh is Kinng got the mix right, while there have been many forgotten ones like Drona which couldn’t. And the onus of getting it right not only depends on the movie makers, but also on the actors – some like Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan just know how to do it right everytime. 

‘Bollywood style’ movies have their origins in early Indian and folk theatre which presented larger than life characters, situations and fantasies. These theatrical works used to be musicals too. Its this world of dreams that Bollywood has taken inspiration from. Larger than life imagery, characters, fantasies and dreams sell like hot cakes in a country where many times its difficult to find anything else than movies to add the zing and spice to monotonous daily lives.

Bollywood – the cinema of excesses has received both criticism and praise for its distinctive style. To be fair, it’s not only India that fabricates and consumes melodrama in movies,Hollywood too is a big sucker for larger than life unreal imagery. All superhero movies, be it latest Batman or Die Hard, rely on unreal power packed dialogues, situations and action – all delivered with the ‘extra’ punch. The song and dance sequences may seem funny, but they are often times the much needed relief from rally of dialogues and render the movie enjoyable. These can be ‘very much fun’.

Even though the ‘masala’ in Bollywood never goes out of fashion, but this should not limit the film makers from looking beyond this distinctive style. Experimentation is essential to every art form – the imagination should never be limited and the canvasses’ layout should change and evolve. And this for the sake of progress in art and the spirit of creativity…

The author is an avid fan and follower of Bollywood movies, and has written several movie reviews and articles on Bollywood. Recommends websites: Doctorflix; Indimine

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