This is not a critique of the kinds of movies that the Hindi film industry churns out. It isn’t a review of the style of acting or lack thereof either.
What this is, however, is commentary from an outsider. A well-wisher perhaps, an admirer even, of the reach and fight that Bollywood puts up in a global film market that’s dominated by the all-consuming juggernaut that is Hollywood.
And this commentary follows an opinion formed from hours of waiting at a barber’s and flipping through the pages of many a glossy Bollywood-centric magazine. The covers of which are usually adorned by men who seem to have the same workout regimen and acting coach, and women who have nicer poses than their male counterparts.
If the description below fits perfectly, the loudest of three cheers to an ability to memorize that I’m pretty sure I lack. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but I find it difficult to remember the names of people I went to college with. But it’s simply my attempt to draw a vivid picture and nothing more.
Actor X, the son of former star Actor M and Actress Y who had been a promising star in the making till she gave up her career to marry Actor M and raise Actor X and his siblings, is excited because his debut film is a starring role alongside another debutante actress.
Let’s call her Actress B, and lo and behold, she also happens to be the daughter of a Bollywood couple, a father who was a known for his ‘negative roles’ and a mother who gave up her dancing career to be a good wife and mother.
But wait, that’s not the best part of this new generation starring twosome. The icing on the cake is that they are being ‘launched’ by a director whose father was a producer and at one point or the other worked with one or all of the starring twosome’s parents.
This and similar permutations repeat themselves in the mundane writing and interviews cliched to the brim that fight for space with even more inane and repetitive poses of the crème de la crème of Bollywood.
As an observer, I notice a theme. That most of Bollywood’s talent seem to be the sons, daughters, nephews, and nieces of anyone with any degree of recognition or pull in the film industry. And that they all state that a)Bollywood motion pictures is a constituent of their blood, and b)they have to work extra hard to prove that they belong on their own merit. (Footnote- I suck as a thespian of any worth, but I will keep appearing in movies because why the hell not, till something works)
My argument is this. If Bollywood is this premier Indian institution, this great machine of the representation of India and its numerous cultures, shouldn’t the stake holders look for talent and ideas from all over the country?
I’m a believer in the free market, and Bollywood studios are private entities are free to do whatever they like. But if you must for a moment, consider this suggestion.
There are amazing actors and actresses all over this country, in Ghaziabad, in Kerala, in Jammu and Kashmir, in Bhopal, even in Arunachal Pradesh or Mizoram, who will never get their shots because someone else happens to be the son of a mediocre actor whose uncle set up a film studio years ago.
What has Bollywood got to lose, really? There are so many stories that it can tell, so many different representations of culture and religion that it can portray.