In this post, we start our exclusive interview series on the Indian motion picture industry (known as Bollywood) , which is the biggest in production numbers in the world. SineBlog will be having detailed interviews with interviews with Bollywood’s actors, producers and more… We will focus on a variety of issues ranging from content to contemporary issues of Bollywood.
Our first guest is Bollywood actor, awarded model and lawyer Altamash Faraz.
Since Bollywood has been the largest movie producer, can we say that Bollywood tells all the stories of India?
Truly, Bollywood is the largest movie producer in the world. However, when it comes to delivering the deep-rooted essence of India, it may lack behind because of the fact that it is majorly driven by economics and box office numbers. Considering the cost of production involved, the risk of telling a story without considering the box office numbers is excessively blurry and risky for filmmakers. India itself is a colossal country and has an incredible world inside the sleeking hoary tales of generations. It has a variety of contrasting cultures and oscillating regions. The stories that had been a huge box office hit in the past are often repeated rather than finding unsung stories. Likewise, the audience is still regressive in the major portions of the country, except for the cosmopolitan cities which do not accept any changes in the mainstream cinema. A lot of beautiful stories get missed out due to similar reasons, which I mentioned, are purely based on economics than creativity.
However, due to the advent of digital platforms like Netflix and Amazon, the vouge of film making and content creating has become easier and accessible for new filmmakers. They now have a more secure platform where they can take risks and gamble with new stories. The ax of censorship does not apply to the digital platforms, therefore, it creates infinite ways and liberty to tell their stories in the purest form. Times have changed and Indian cinema is also changing under these evolutions. It is surely going to be par with the Western world as the stakes are getting higher. Collaborations with West happen more often. These platforms are molding the quality of the movies to breathtaking levels.
What do you think about Bollywood’s sociological and cultural missions within the country (like strengthening the national unity, etc.)? Do you think has India been able to use Bollywood as a soft power instrument in the international arena?
Cinema itself is a very powerful and influential medium and Bollywood has had a major influence on Indian society. When we consider the number of films produced in India, it is safe to state that very few of them have carried sociological messages. Sometimes, they help to shed light on public issues and the reach of these films is enormous. The sociological impact, however, is not that great since when you try to carry a sociological message, you risk to offend a group of people and create controversies that might affect the business of the movie. Therefore no filmmaker wishes to take this risk. However, Bollywood plays a vital role in bringing public issues very easily.
However, when it comes to the cultural impact, Bollywood has taken the culture of India to every corner of the world.
Is “Hinglish” a necessity to reach out to a wider audience or an element of transition in moving towards a more national or global cinema?
Hinglish is not at all a necessity for reaching out to a wider audience because globally, the Indian films have carved a separate path for being a distinct and efficacious class of storytelling, different from the rest of the world.
People watching Indian films do not get perturbed by the language barrier. They solely watch it for the sheer visual pleasure that Bollywood films promise. Perhaps the infusion of Hinglish is not to get a wider audience. Rather, it is a sign that the Indian population in cosmopolitan cities speak Hinglish more than any language. It has become modern India’s common language among them. Basically, it is due to the inclusive nature of the language in the Indian diaspora. It is not out of an aim to reach a wider audience.
Masala films, parallel cinema, or a mixture of them. How do you think Bollywood will evolve in the future? What can be the innovations and continuities in terms of genres and content?
As stated above, due to the advent of digital mediums, the dynamics of the industry are changing very fast. There is no doubt that streaming is the future, as it promises the freedom to create. At least until new laws are enacted. It has opened new doors for new and old filmmakers to experiment. It allows them to change the old rustic ways of storytelling by putting out new content now because the medium provides more security and it reduces the pressure of necessity of a box office success. Also, improvements in society caused an attitude change of the audience. Now they are more accepting and open to new content than ever. Films that were earlier considered parallel cinema are now making huge box office success and mixing into mainstream space. The line between genres are blurring and new genres are being formed. Clearly, this is an age of change for Bollywood for good. The Indian films are no more following the same old pattern of cliche stories but marching ahead with the new and relatable stories with amazing technical advancement and creative mindfulness.
Bollywood is known to be problematic when it comes to women’s representation in films. Additionally, when we look at the number of female filmmakers, it is safe to state that the industry is male-dominated. Do you think is there any potential for change in this matter? Does the lack of representation of women in the sector stem from cultural judgment?
Underrepresentation of women was left behind in the lucid past. Now, more than ever, women are taking the lead in making films. They march with the rest, taking an equal burden of the whole film on their shoulders. Women-centric films are on the rise. Pay scales are equal now and the number of women characters is on the rise. Women are sharing the same responsibility and walking shoulder to shoulder with the men in cinema. The pay scale, screen time, character importance is equally distributed between men and women to form a platform equal and open to all genders to form a better society. Actually, it is easier to draw more audiences to movie theaters thanks to women actresses. They have a huge fanbase who follow them.
Women are reaching over to the West to collaborate with international filmmakers. They have done a tremendous job that can’t be blurred. And actually, they are being paid a higher salary than the male actor.
However, the changes in the attitudes and mindsets of the population are not a one-day job or neither a work of fantasy. Surely, time will be the bridge to create and imprint the equality inside or outside of the industry.
Has Bollywood reached the upper limit it deserves in India and around the world? Plagiarism and problems of enforcing copyright laws in Bollywood is a phenomenon that is constantly being voiced. What more can be done about this?
Considering advancements in movie-making technology and creative content, it would be risky to say that Bollywood has reached the upper limit as the trends are changing every now and then. However, it could easily be said that Bollywood has carved a niche for itself in creating a different identity for its cinema, different from the rest of the world. The audience for Indian films is huge and the content cannot be compared to others.
When we talk about plagiarism and copyright issues, it is not easy to tackle them because of the economic and administrative structure of the country. The laws are not that precise, and a lot of loopholes are prevalent which does not help in eradicating the menace. However, things are changing now. Considering that Bollywood’s contribution to the Indian economy, we hope to see some structural changes to tackle these issues soon.