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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bollywood's Regression

In the 1980's, Bollywood flourished with parallel cinema-- low budget films with incredible depth, void of the masala and commercialism of today's films. As we see a glimmer of hope with some films taking a risk, one such director of one such film zeroes in on the problem. Director Anurag Kashyup of the forthcoming "No Smoking" said this in an interview:

"Yash Raj has the power to change cinema. We don't. We've been trying hard. But Yash Raj can do it overnight. Yash Raj changes, our cinema changes. But they choose not to change. They choose to stay in their mediocrity, just counting money. Everybody is doing business. That's fine, but they are making us regress.”

Although big names such as the director Karan Johar, were quick to criticize Kashyup, he is definitely correct. Yash Raj productions make films like "Ta Ra Rum Pum," "Jhoom Barabar Jhoom," and "Neal N' Nikki," movies that are, in Kashyup's words, "mediocre." Yash Raj Productions are the most powerful production company in Bollywood, yet they do not challenge themselves to take risks, which they can definitely afford.

Kashyup also said that "Chak De India" was a good move forward for the company-- but it was an "apologetic release... They didn't have faith in it. For the first time they didn't ask for terms and conditions with the exhibitors. If they had faith in the film they would have played on the front foot."

Kashyup also said that his distributors had to make the film more "marketable" by Bollywood standards by including a famous actress in an "item number" to promote the film, a concept that Kashyup believes Yash Raj has the power to change.