My blog has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mainstream met Parallel... in 2001

Although "Om Shanti Om" has been on the minds of all Bollywood fans this past month, another film captured the attention of an audience at The Museum of Fine Arts last month. The film, titled "Zubeida," was showcased in part of a series dedicated to Indian culture, a weekend-long event the museum has every year.

The film's showing attracted many viewers, some who were fans of parallel cinema, and others who were new to Bollywood. A Boston local made came to watch his first Bollywood film, and made his first visit to the MFA. "It's definitely a unique experience for me," said Jerry (above).

Most others are fans of the director, Shyam Benegal. Benegal, who's films defined the 1980's era, had many loyal followers because of his simplistic style. His actresses seldom would wear make up, unless the role demanded it (like the film about an actress, Bhumika)m and the actors were usually from a more serious house of journalism. The characters were usually from lower class communities, and his storylines were often dramatic (but not over the top) and always nontraditional.

One fan, Anita, was at the event because of Benegal's "brilliance," she stated. But Zubeida was one of her least favorite Benegal movies. In this film, Benegal gave in to the current commercial Bollywood, and Anita said "Bollywood movies, I cannot stand." He had all extremely marketable stars, music, and dancing. The story was about a prince who marries a divorced mother-- not usual Benegal.

But the film was an attempted blend of commercial and parallel films, an attempt which worked. Richard Delacy (in the middle), Lecturer for Urdu-Hindi, Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, said that:
"One could look at the parallel cinema movement collapsing into commercial cinema.... it's necessary for directors like him to make movies that appeal to a rural audience. It's not as viable to make films like Benegal made today. He's experimenting and using different forms, continually, and that's great."

But although the film was mainstream, it still had the staple Benagal parallel vibe. An audience member, who was from Pakistan, pointed out how brilliantly Benegal was able to cover intelligent themes, without losing the commercial effect. She referred to problems Muslims faced in India after the Partition in the 1950's, and even the core issue of the lonely lives all the women in his film had.

Although this film may not have been a true Benegal fan's favorite film, it was a film, that I believe, helped usher in the current slowly growing parallel movement. Zubeida was still a brilliant film, and a romance-- but without the cliched dialogues, horrible acting, and predictable storyline.

The film won many awards, and although it wasn't a box office hit, it had great reviews. Today, it's possible that this film would have been a hit (box office wise). This film is definitely a model to follow for Bollywood film directors.

** Fulfills Assignment 5