Before I reveal the hit phormulas in the year that marks 100 years of Indian cinema, let me first take you on a journey to the magical land of Bollywood on my flying carpet.
White folks, just for the record — Aladdin is not Indian and the only snakes we involuntarily charm are the depraved politicians.
Bollywood is a place where:-
- All unsuspecting passerbys start dancing in perfect choreography in every gaana
- Traditional musicians (Stay calm and listen to AR Rahman) are revered for their divine talent far beyond their auto-tuned, disco beat plagiarizing competitors
- The on-screen presence of nearly all mainstream, lip-synching actors is neatly tucked behind their nip and tuck
- Commercial actresses are marketed as the likes of Munni, Sheila, Babli and Laila to lure the male audience to come watch, at least for the item song, if not the scriptless movie
- The annual award functions outnumber the availability of acclaimed actors who can match up to the legacy left by their yesteryear cinematic idols — Legendary actor Pran, who starred in over 300 Bollywood films, managed to bag a couple of prestigious awards in his lifetime. Last year, the guy who played Vicky Donor bagged as many awards as the number of sperm he donated in his movie.
- Foreign artists who may not be as appreciated in their own homeland, are welcomed as imported gifts to India
- And last but not least, out of the bajillion and one movies churned out each year, most of which revolve around some hoodwinking love story, only a handful are worthy of taking one’s brain along to the cinema hall.
At the end of the day, anything that is presented to the public is open to criticism. As a self-appointed Bollywood critic, I admit I am no expert to make any technical or artistic comments as a lot of hard work goes into a putting a good script into celluloid – for e.g. spot boys holding the umbrella so the actors can maintain their white complexion all year round.
While I am thankful for those few Bollywood movies that highlight and wittingly criticize the reality of India’s status quo on the pressurizing and unimaginative education system (3 Idiots), the wrongdoing in the medical, legal and political professions, the crimes against women (Lajja), the grievances of the farmers etc., Bollywood, in general, much like the sport of Cricket, will always thrive as an integral part of Indian cultural discourse.
Folks, sit back, relax, ’cause the following tips are gonna satiate all of your filmy taste buds. Grab some refrigerated Frooti, just in case.
#1 Rich vs Poor Dichotomy
This is the classic hit formula that has clean bowled Indian audiences for many generations. Some filmmakers still pull a googly with it, making it more overused than the burnt chai ki patti boiling to its finest carbon monoxide level at local road stands. Such scripts revolve around varying equations of a boy, a girl, their disproportionate wealth and their uniting zeal for love. For that extra hit factor, insert a dream sequence in Switzerland with a tree, a cozy fire, the heroine in scantily clad black sari parading in the snow and hypothermia. I recommend sneaking in a packet of fatafat with you in the theater for digestion because there will be a whole lot of romantic barfing. Don’t forget to add a villain who wants to rape the heroine, or hoard the wealth of the rich protagonist by virtue of a business transaction masked in the form of marriage alliance, or has no other occupation than to make any one of the following constipated faces.
(Immense respect for first three. I dunno how the last cock-a-doodle-do made the cut.)
# 2 One Man Army/Police Eshtud
With the success of Dabangg, fillum writers across the board were hit by a severe drought of their free flowing intellect when they decided –
Why not make movies about the one thing India desperately needs:
Symmetrical moustache and matching hairstyle banane waale, maa ka dood peene waale, raat ko goggle shoggle pehne waale, Rajnikant stunts maarne waale – Indian police guy!
Don’t even think about calling for backup. This cop can handle it alone and how!
I can kill bad guys and woo women with the same move – by looking horny.
Of course, the rest of the police brigade does arrive after completing their afternoon rituals of chai and samosa. They conveniently handcuff the beaten up perpetrators and thank the cop for his latkas and jhatkas.
You gotta love the irony when an actor who should be in jail for a crime in real life is acting as the Robin Hood crime crusader. At least his Munna Bhai Babba Sanju (MBBS) counterpart is humble enough to accept his time behind bars.
Other [Cop]y Cat examples:
Have a wife who is trapped by a ganglord’s son who is molesting her in front of your face?
No problem. Call the identical in every way except Bihar da lalla Rathore who keeps jabbering “Don’t angry me” and yet the audience is left fuming with that exact same emotion when the curtain rolls down and our IQ is restored to normalcy.
Forgive me, I chose to ignore this movie after seeing Akshay’s monkey dance and his unique fetish for prancing around phoren women who miraculously know enough Hindi to say, “Fire brigade mang wa de tu.” Seriously, someone please call the fire police and extinguish our anguish.
Dvgn’s (I removed all vowels because the man changed his spelling too many times for anyone to give a doodoo) brilliant performance of putting his hand on vibrator mode which metaphysically echoes into the roar of a lion. It conveniently scares off the bad guys who seem to get a thrashing all in one nice line that is reminiscent of the British Army.
#3 Make a Sequel to a Movie that Did Decent Bijiness
Sequels in Bollywood can be twofold. Either they have nothing to do with the original (The crappy Aashiqui installment pooped by the Bhatt camp) or they are no different from the original (Dabangg series – though I did notice some difference in the length of Sonakshi Sinha’s blouses from the trailers. Also beware folks – Munni and her mujjhar husband will make a third installment and feature themselves in a cameo because no one else is hiring them except perhaps, Comedy Circus Ke Ajoobe.)
The fact that such sequels manage to make outstanding number of crores at the box office in distinct districts of India gives us an excellent indicator of which areas need greater intervention of common sense literacy programs.
#4 Can’t Control the Ants in My Pants Rockstar
99.23% of Bollywood actors can’t sing. And those who can sing are NOT, how should I put this, Khans, Kapoors or poore ke poore filmy Khandani chorey to even get the opportunity to get noticed, let alone, star in a flick.
So we are left with lip-synchers. It’s not a problem until the actor is playing a singer and then all vocal chords break loose from their sulky stereotyped performance. The background vocals are far from being sore-throated but the actors are an eyesore for sure. In reality, background singers in Bollywood are perfectly normal individuals that do not need alcohol, sex and substance abuse rehab.
# 5 Uncles Romancing Actresses Their Daughter’s Age
When it’s comes to leading actors in our industry, the more they age, the younger looking roles they play. There are a plethora of movies abounding with 40 year olds playing students ready to enter college, or even a rare 60 year old playing a kid ready to enter elementary school (Paa). Granted some do a marvelous job of it but some just make you wonder how many injections of Botox (to freeze normal face lifts), how many packets of Shalini mehndi (to add a tinge of orange to your white hair) and how many bags of Shalimar Baag tea (to remove puffiness under the eyes) were employed.
# 6 Rich Folks with Unknown Income Sources/Black Money
In general, Karan Johar is allergic to showing the slightest bit of poverty in his movies.
For example, boys with ten pack muscles don’t drive Ferraris to school. What about a posh Mercedes, you ask? That’s totally acceptable in private institutions in India (*cough* DPS).
Man, I would have actually enjoyed my high school experience if boys were dancing in corridors like this.
However, the only dancing I got to see was a group of the same 10 oddly sized women flexing to La Gasolina in every school function. Because Shiamak Davar and Ashley Lobo love their Daddy Yankee.
Who the hell has prom in college? More importantly, which guy has such low self-esteem to stand in line to get rated by a woman whose name is Poo?
The boys in Johar’s movies usually respond with this type of lecherous facial expression.
And naturally, the girls respond just as well.
Kabhi Bum Kabhi Dum Maaro Dum
How to find a long lost brother in London? Simple! Go to a Cyber Cafe. Search name on a public website. Viola! Find their address which leads to a mansion. No wonder UK was called the crime capital of Europe in 2010.
Knock Knock, Kajol. An income tax collector is here.
# 7 The Ultimate Threesome
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai– (English translation: Something something, happening happening)
Moral of the story– In order to be united with your true love — Let him pick another woman over you, marry her, have a kid with her, for some horrible reason, let the other woman die from pregnancy related complications, let their kid get old enough to read letters left by her mother to finally come haunt you at a time when you have finally moved on and become engaged to a handsome man.
Even then, it takes three more dance sequences and an awkward gazebo scene for your old lover boy to actually start thinking about you in that lovey dovey way. D’awww! The saturated ghee of my phulka just melted.
Who the hell still falls for this crap?
Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon
This movie is a typical love triangle, though from the overacting, it seems to be about three psychopaths on drugs. You will get tired of seeing everyone with their overly exaggerated responses to simple worldly phenomenon. Some critics claim that Hrithik Roshan went a step beyond his “Koi Mil Gaya” performance in this movie. Watch it, but only on some Babaji ki Booty!
Jab Tak Hai Jaan
Teri zulfon ki leharaati angdaiyaan, Nahi bhoolunga main
Tera palat ke phir na dekhna, Nahin maaf karunga main
Chhoti chhoti teri bachkani badmashiyon se, Mohabbat karunga main
Teri be-raham duaaon se, Nafrat karunga main
In essence, these beautifully contradictory poetic lines convey that he will always love and hate her, but never forget nor forgive her. Phew! That’s a lot of emotional baggage folks.
These lines give me the impression of a highly fragmented person, almost one with multiple personalities.That kind of a person doesn’t need to hang around potentially dangerous bombs because he is going to emotionally explode any instant. Maybe that tagline would have fetched the movie more crores at the box office.
#8 Depict women in such a way that propels feminist upheaval
Dear Indian fathers – Don’t force your daughter to marry an Indian guy who smokes and shoots animals after giving her one month of all-you-can-enjoy debauchery in Europe. And that too because of some childish, childhood pact. How can you expect her to slave for this stranger of a husband when you raised her like an independent woman? Instead, let the London boy whisk her away with his nauseating one-liners and Karva Chauth cuteness.
“Ganga apne sasur Kishorilal ki amanat hai.” “Ganga apne Pitaji ki amanant hai.” “Ganga apne hone wali pati ki amanat hai.” Seriously folks, the female protagonist is abused as man’s property just as much as her namesake holy river is polluted in India today. Mahima Chaudary responds to her father with a plea of “Papa, agar aap mujhe zeher peene ko bhi bol dein, toh main pe loongi.” Sanity is restored at the end when the granny of the house gives a lecture to all the men, “The wives, mothers, and daughters of India have been sacrificing and taking in poison for too long. But Ganga will not do so.”
Jab We Met
Read my first post about the khuli hui tijori train scene. My favorite dialogue from this movie was actually not from Geet but from the guy who played Anshuman. “Mujhe ganno ke khet main nahi janaa hai!” LOLOL
It’s amazing how love can blossom when you get screwed over by a man who uses you for a political party win. It’s a blessing that there won’t be any sequels because the two lovers shoot each other in the end.
Only in India, can you find a woman get hit on by a long list of men, even though she is actually a young man disguised as an old maid. No woman is spared.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
“Main udna chahta hoon naina, potty karna chahta hoon, ass ka hole badatameez banna chahta hoon”
YJHD is just endless songs dropping on our heads like pigeon poo, and a semblance of a script wrapped around it. There are some really pathetic dialogues like, “If girls have fun your age, they end up getting pregnant” – Naina’s mom. Or Energizer Bunny’s attempts to make Naina loosen up on their trip and become as energized (read: horny) as him — “Relax Naina, it’s not like you have AIDS.” Enjoy a random item song that yet again makes you wonder which Disneyland part of the Red Light District they were trying to showcase because the movie commences with a Madhuri style munni on Prozac, all the way from Dilli and wait for it……Vi(agra).
What do Kundan, Jay Gatsby and even that guy from 500 Days of Summer have in common? Deep-seated infatuation with one individual whom they hope will complete their lives. If someone is not reciprocating your interest, the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and for everyone else involved, is to move the eff on. We’ve seen the self-sacrificial essence of love umpteen times before. Arvind slashed his wrist for Manisha in the classic Tu Hi Re melody in Bombay but such suicidal tendencies ruin the innocence of the movie because you can’t force someone to love you. If you do, it’s not love buddy. It’s called being selfish.
Whatever happened to – True love does not possess. Or if you really love someone, let them be free and if they come back, they’re yours forever, else they never were.
It seems like those theories went down the Benaras gutters with the rest of the myriad Holi colors. The boy barges his way into his beloved’s life time and time again, so much so that his only means of redemption is to die for her sake. A.R. Rahman’s soulful music (e.g.Tum Tak has notes of a religious ballad because Kundan ‘worshipped’ Zoya) and the ending dialogue salvages maybe 35% of the movie. The rest of the time you’ll be wondering – why didn’t that girl obtain a restraining order?
# 9 Make a Movie Revolving Around a Popular Topic such as Punjabis or a Car or Both
Meri Dad Ki Maruti
I just have to acknowledge the bravery of the cast to show an Indian version of twerking inspired by this Punjabi woman.
Other example includes : Do Dooni Char, Ferrari Ki Sawaari, Namastey London (Funjabi Boy impressing a girl with a short blurb about Indian newspapers and our diverse Indian leaders), Dil Bole Hadippa (Punjabi spirit plus Cricket)
#10 If all else fails – Let the audience think for themselves
The sexual tension is easily palpable, yet there is not one ounce of vulgarity in any leaf of the ‘foliage’ of breathtaking scenes between star-crossed Pakhi and Varun.
Gangs of Wasseypur
Nothing is sugarcoated. Reality is as reality does in the coal mafia portrayal and blood-curdling violence of Jharkhand.
This movie should have been retitled 3 and half idiots. Why? Because Kareena leaves the man who treated her like a profit and loss statement, only to become willing to marry him again after several years of not hearing back from Rancho. More importantly, if Viru(s) knew the salary of Rancho’s father when he compared it to Raju and Farhan’s family income, couldn’t he have gotten some information about his whereabouts after he disappeared?
Forget Raju Rastogi. This is how an induction motor really starts 🙂
Conclusion & Personal Recommendations
Box office collections aren’t always a barometer of good cinema in India. My personal tips to fillum-makers out there:
1) Make a movie with an interesting title that speaks to everyone in any generation. I came up with “Biwi ka Ghulam ya Maa baap ka Ghanshyam”
2) Or follow this timeless motto: “Life main teen cheezon ke peeche nahi bhaagne chahiye – bus, train, aur ladki.”
The only tip I can provide about what kind of film NOT to make is:
Love Story 2050– No movie has defied science more than a story about a guy who searches for his beloved by traveling in a time machine into the future. Here’s the fatal flaw- His lover already died in the present!!