What Bollywood Has that Hollywood Needs!
Coming from one of the most populace countries in the world and having its start around the birth of cinema itself, there is a lot of history behind this arm of international cinema and as a result a whole host of unique idiosyncrasies that make it stand out loud and proud against its western counterpart.
While the western style of film making has grown to become darker, more grounded in reality and focused on complex characters in more simple plot structures, Indian cinema has become a bright modern day beacon of vibrant colour, expressive music weaved in to the fabric of the film and longer narratives that allow the writers and directors to weave more complex and interesting storys.
Maybe its all the stunning shots of Holi, or the historic use of vivid reds and blues in clothing or maybe just the remarkable views of the Indian countryside but the use of colour within Bollywood cinema has never failed to be anything but breathtakingly eye-catching as a rainbow of colour flashes pass the screen as naturally as the dulled hues of Hollywood.
In the Shahrukh Khan film Zero (2018) colour is consistently used to set the mood of a scene to then shift and transform as the emotions of each character are revealed through the motions of the scripted action. Bright yellow hued scenes dipping to a melancholy blue as feelings cool, or as in the example above a dreary brown corridor exploding in to astonishing colour as love is professed.
Music in Bollywood films are often a hotly debated topic and even I can admit that a lot of the songs found within Bollywood films are definitely on the “cringe leading to unwatchable” side however this doesn't mean that all Bollywood music is bad or that its used badly, in fact I'd argue that it is this overuse of music and heavy historic focus on sound design has given them a leg up on the competition on the audio front.
While originally a moment for a character to take a side and let the audience know there emotions or intentions in an upfront way, the Bollywood song has evolved into a more complex for of exploring characters deeper psyche and even revealing things about them through the subtext of what is being sung about.
Outside of the “Musical” moments the use of musical cues and specific motifs to represent characters and emotional states is something that was once used a great deal in opera and even found its way in to the video-game space however Bollywood seem to be the only place that uses this to a consistent cinematic effect.
3-Hours may seem like a lot of time for a person to sit down and watch a film however there is an advantage to this longer run-time, and that is that it allows writers and directors to explore more interesting and complex plots that fall way outside the typical 3-act plot structure.
The evolving nature of the narratives told by many Bollywood films allow for a varied and unique pacing which allows the director to tell these complex stories without boring the audience with too consistent a tone and allows for a great deal of experimentation and play with the narrative itself.
As well as this the length allows for a much more organic feeling arch for characters, meaning someone being introduced to the plot never feels rushed in or like they simply came out of nowhere and is a refreshing break from much of the “Because Movie” logic found in character introductions in contemporary Hollywood.
The run-time is not for everyone and honestly I can understand that but just watch the film “Queen” 2014 and tell me that the pacing for this film makes it seem like its an hour long on first watch.
If you're looking for some good Bollywood picks...
3 Idiots (2009)
Baahubali: The Beginning (2015)
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (2019)
© 2019 Joe C Delderfield