Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect

I enjoy watching Bollywood Masala movies now and then, not always the arty types which have overt and covert social and political messages embedded within them. But recently I did watch a typical Bollywood masala movie with songs, dances, action and all the works and found myself what picture of society it was painting – for after all, all media does after all say some thing.  The story was of typical with a hero, a heroine – the hero, the son of a humble taxi driver and the heroine, the only daughter of an under world don. Then there is the brother of the heroine, a colorless man whose only identity is that of being the friend of another baddie and whose girl friend, the heroine initially is as the movie starts.As usually happens, once when the heroine alone, some goons come and try and molesting her at which point of course, the hero steps in and rescues and the girl changes her affiliation in the only independent decision I observed he making in the entire movie. After that through out the whole two to three hour long movie, the girl was no more than a chess piece pawn between the father, father in law to be the husband to be and the brother, all of who are connected through underworld business ties and want to cement it through a marriage of convenience.

Although the whole of society is not criminal as the characters in this movie are, large segment of agrarian, and rural India are feudal and mainstream Bollywood movies of the pre multiplex era reflect that ethos and spirit. In fact, though I have not studied the phenomena seriously, I think that it is possible to distinguish between movies made in the multiplex era (the multiplex audience is more urbane, more accepting, if not also more forgiving) and those made before.

In the Masala movies, I just watched, made at least a decade and a half ago, the heroine is less than a play thing. The older men around her decide whom she will marry , when she will marry , what clothes she will wear , the kid of society he should come from , what kind of language he should speak  her views on any thing are of little concern , they are of no concern at all. The few times, she tries to express any opinion, regarding her preferences in so far as marriage goes, she is bluntly told to shut up.

The setting of the movie is in a college and the heroine and he heroine are in college, in fact class mates. But it is not clear why they are in college at all, unless it is to give credibility to the fact that they are young. While the hero as the taxi driver’s son displays middle class ambitions of upward mobility, and it is talked about that he will eventually get a job in a tea estate after graduation, it is not clear at all as to why the girl should be in college at all, unless it is to train her up as some kind of a hostess for underworld parties.  If Tagore’s “Where the Mind is without Fear……” is the ideal, there is a long way to go for the heroine of this movie and her mind. At another level, the producer, the director and the voluptuous heroine ensure that there are lots to” see” in terms of the actress being a pleasing eye candy.

But these images may be on their way out. As the revenue streams of he multiplexes dictate what Bollywood produces, the days of the cat calling front benchers may be waning. Not because men (or women) have changed but perhaps today’s generation may prefer the bold and the unconventional women of Salaam Namastee or KANK   than simply dumb candy floss.

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