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Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Small Step for Bollywood, a Giant Leap for SRK!

Need more convincing that formula, commercial Bollywood that dominated for the past two decades is seeing its last days? Check out the reviews for Saawariya, and compare them to Om Shanti Om.

Although I've said it before-- Om Shanti Om is a very commercial, over-the-top and big budget film, it does have some merit-- it mocks the very filmdom it reeks of. The whole appeal of the movie is that it pokes fun of the Bollywood Shahrukh Khan (the producer and main actor) and the director Farah Khan hail from. This technique makes the movie fresh. It actually turns out to be a push forward for Bollywood's emerging progressive movement.
Now, I don't want to give the film too much credit-- The concept of mocking Bollywood has been done before, and been done much better. But that's the thing with this industry-- its only cool if the popular kids do it.

Saawariya, the other big- budget big-deal film failed, according to critics and to the box office (compared to OSO). Ok yes, I sometimes do feel that critics are much harder on the director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, because they do accept more from him. His track record is incredible-- all four of his movies have won many awards and gained critical acclaim. His first movie "failed" at the box office, and was not as popular as any of the other movies. Of course, this film, "Khamoshi," is not only my favorite SLB film, but one of my all-time favorites. Great performances, incredible story-- definitely fabulous. Sadly, the Indian public did not accept it, and Bhansali took that to heart.

After that, all his films had lavish sets, costumes and mainstream commercial actors. (I would include Black in this category. Just because there wasn't a lot of color does not mean the sets were not lavish.) And Saawariya fits into this category with ease. Maybe in 2002, this film would have made as much, if not more money than SRK's "Om Shanti Om." But "Saawariya" was a part of Bollywood that was so three years ago-- a young boy sees a young girl, falls in love, one is shy...etc.

Although it's clear that OSO beat Saawariya this week, I think the winner to emerge from this is the producer and actor of OSO, Shahrukh Khan. The reason for this is-- SRK is definitely one of the most popular actors in Bollywood. And, it is completely obvious that he would play the male lead in a film like Saawariya-- those love stories are what he does best. But he was not in Saawariya-- he was in OSO, mocking films like Saawariya, exposing the silliness of the very Bollywood he helped shape and rule. It's obvious SRK has had a great year, and here's hoping he has permanently retired from Bollywood that is both regressive and formulaic.