Is Bollywood finally bold and sexy?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is Bollywood finally bold and sexy?

Vidya Balan with Emraan Hashmi and Tushar Kapoor in a still from The Dirty Picture



Bollywood is coming out of the closet. Bold depictions and taboo topics have suddenly become common on the big screen as well as on TV. What was considered forbidden so long is becoming saleable subject and being served as entertainment.

Male strippers, sperm donors, extra-marital sex, the casting couch, free use of cuss words and the middle finger, and exploited starlets suddenly comprise themes in commercial Bollywood. While it is still understandable if going bold is a part of the big screen masala, the Indian middle class audience got a shock when porn star Sunny Leone entered the reality show Bigg Boss 5. On the big screen, use of expletive, double innuendos and objectionable gestures - till now avoided by filmmakers or underplayed on screen - are suddenly considered to be ways of expression.

"The audience wants to look beyond regular entertainment that they have been getting for years. We cannot let several interesting issues remain hidden under the carpet simply because these issues are bold," says Milan Luthria, director of The Dirty Picture, a film that grossed it big by unabashedly projecting the life of eighties sex bomb Silk Smitha.

"It is not that only showbiz has gone bold. Society at large has developed a rather daring approach towards life. People in their day-to-day life now openly discuss what was taboo in the past and this is the reason that films are being made on such themes," says Prahlad Kakkar, adfilmmaker and image consultant. "For how long will the audience watch cliched symbolism like two roses coming together or two birds flying? Filmmakers have to explore bold themes boldly so that the audience is amused and entertained."

Luthria's The Dirty Picture openly discussed sleaze behind the glitter in showbiz through Silk's life story. Vidya Balan's bold portrayal of a village girl's ambitious shortcut to the top was widely appreciated by the masses. On screen, Vidya, known so far for her demure image, shocked the audience with her dare-bare act as Silk Smitha. The success of the film proves the audience is willing to accept bold themes.

On the other hand, Akshay Kumar and John Abraham, image-conscious superstars, surprised all with their performances as strippers Rohit Dhawan's Desi Boyz. The film highlights how two London-based Indians lose their jobs in the time of recession and are forced to take up jobs as male escorts in a nightclub. Bollywood hunks Akshay and John strip down to innerwear only to be cheered by the stinking rich women guests at the club.

Sperm donation is another issue that was avoided by filmmakers till now. In Onir's episodic film, I Am, one of the segments has Purab Kohli playing a young boy who makes a living as a sperm donor. The story shows how a single woman played by Nandita Das approaches the donor.

Elsewhere, veejay Ayusshman Khurana makes his Bollywood debut with Vicky Donor, where he plays a budding cricketer who becomes a sperm donor to earn a few extra bucks.

Thanks to moral policing, filmmakers till recently were wary of what they showed on screen. This included the use of language in the dialogues. However, a change in the trend was noticed this year with Delhi Belly, Bhindi Baazaar Inc. and No One Killed Jessica, where cuss words were liberally used.

The Aamir Khan-produced Delhi Belly, fast emerging as a cult film, was promoted as an adult comedy where the use of colloquial urban language was considered natural because that's how our youth speak nowadays.

"Delhi Belly is an accurate take on the youth of today. If you are making a film describing the modern urban youth then you can't be showing them as ideal virginal kids in designer clothes, who don't do anything bad or wrong," said Imran Khan, the fil's hero at the time of the release.

The change is not just restricted to language. The middle finger has emerged as a popular gesture for a range of expressions.

In Rockstar, Ranbir Kapoor expresses aggression showing the finger to a crowd. In No One Killed Jessica, the finger is Rani Mukerji's way of saying she doesn't give a damn about life. Sonam Kapoor is seen showing the finger at the camera in a promo of the upcoming Players, as a gesture of going one-up in a certain situation. Hrithik Roshan was seen making a similar gesture in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

Rockstar director Imtiaz Ali was clear that Ranbir's finger action is "bold" for the Indian mindset but was necessary "to show the point of view of a rebel".

While the finger fetish has caught on, the censors really drew the line on Sonam's gesture in Players when Abbas-Mustan, makers of the film, tried showing the scene in the television promos. The scene has since then been blurred in the television promos.

It is not just films, even television - widely considered a medium for the middle class family audience - is going no-holds barred. There is now a slot after 11 pm for adult content. Colors channel readily made use of the late timing by introducing porn star Sunny Leone in Bigg Boss 5. While the housemates were not told who Sunny really is, the PR machinery of the show ensured the press was supplied with enough information to let the audience know what her real calling is.

As Sunny went pole dancing on the show, the TRPs of the show increased - proving the viewership was indeed interested. Google searches and downloads of content featuring Sunny have gone up, and the middle class has accepted watching a godman and a porn star on the same show.

"Gone are the days when showbiz had to be politically correct. The fact that such efforts are yielding good business proves the audience has started to enjoy mature subjects that were till now referred to in hushed tones," says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Although the audience has been enjoying such content, a counter argument is that these are quickfix attempts to draw the crowds. "Bold themes need to be dealt with a lot of creativity and finesse. Failing this, the attempt can become cheap and gross. The focus should be on combining creativity with entertainment," adds Adarsh.

Very few in Bollywood have successfully dealt with bold subjects in the past. For instance, Dev Anand's Guide openly depicted extra-marital love way back in 1965. Anand was also among the earliest actor-filmmakers to deal with drugs in Hare Rama Hare Krishna in 1971. Yash Chopra presented Waheeda Rahman as a woman who abandons her daughter from a pre-marital relationship in his 1976 film, Kabhie Kabhie. Chopra also faintly touched on incest in his 1991 film, Lamhe. These however were rare instances. Mainstream Bollywood seems to be growing up only now.


Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/bollywood-the-dirty-picture-desi-boyz-delhi-belly/1/164656.html

No comments:

Ratings and Recommendations by outbrain

Popular Posts

Recents Posts

Recent Comments