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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Unconventional wins in Bollywood!

Chak De India-- a film with two songs (but no dance sequences), no love story, a film about hockey, and starring sixteen newcomers-- is the highest grosser and biggest hit of 2007.

The film is completely unconventional. Yes, it could be said that this is because the main role is attributed to Shahrukh Khan, (also called the King of Bollywood in Anupama Chopra's book) but Khan has had many failures in the past, so that cannot be reason alone. The film was fresh, had a unique and hard-hitting script, and tackled ideas such as sexism and diversity and cultural differences in India.

So- does this mean that there is actually a bankable audience for serious, well-made films in Bollywood?

One of my personal favorites, Dor, was released last year. The film was recognized for its incredible script and focus on feminism and the treatment of widows in certain communities, but it did not even receive half of the profits that Chak De India is garnering.

One thing Chak De had going for itself was that it was produced by India's leading production company, Yash Raj Films, but their involvement does not guarentee success alone- some of their really horrible films (Neal 'N Nikki) still fail.

It would be incredible if other mainstream production companies followed in Yash Raj's footsteps, and tried banking on unconventional and well-made films. By unconventional I mean films like Dor and Chak De India-- not Heyy Babyy, which people call "unique" because the leading lady gets pregnant before getting married.

Intellectual films have always been produced in Bollywood-- but they usually lack a larger audience. Let's hope that this changes with Chak De!