The Social Side of Bollywood

I'm all about the glam and gloss in Hindi films -- trust me, I may sit and oust Karan Johar, but I've seen every single of his OTT films. However, amidst the luster of a Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and one I Hate Luv Storys lie a few films which make an impact which is far greater. Every so often, when we are lucky enough I believe, we are bestowed with a social film. A director will take it upon himself to make a film that is hard-hitting and honest. Over time, the issues have changed from being more complacent to ones that are more prevalent in time. I for one, have always advocated for such films. You see, the only two things that really sell in India is Cricket and Bollywood. Now, how do you incorporate the murder of the female child into cricket? Can't do it right. So you opt for option two. Desi folks (or most of them) absolutely adore Hindi films and thus, if you can manage to work a burning issue into a film, you can pretty much be sure your message will be noticed, if nothing else.

The first social film that my memory can recall was Deepa Mehta's Shabana Azmi-Nandita Das' Fire. I remember being all of 13 and watching a film about women in love with one another. That was my introduction into the world of homosexuality. I grew up with a pretty liberal mother who believed her children needed to be aware of everything in the world. And thus, despite our rather sheltered upbringing, we were aware of issues that were taboo. From then on, I developed a slight bias to such films. In time, more such films were introduced into the world of Hindi films. But the issues haven't always been related to sex. Yes, we are yet to completely understand and fathom homosexuality in India without mocking them - ahem Karan Johar ala Dostana; you can be sure more films on the gays and lesbians in our country will be made, but our socially aware filmmakers have moved on. It's about political strife, infidelity, education, AIDS, suicide, ragging, violence and even untold secrets of the glamour world. Some issues work better than others; Some win awards, others are shunned for reasons that are rather shameful, I believe.

Very few filmmakers actually have the balls to come out and place pinpoint such issues. Can we expect Karan Johar to shed the glam quotient and make such a film? Probably not - look what he did with KANK and My Name is Khan? Serious issues; sugarcoated. And the west is no different. Slumdog Millionaire is hardly a true depiction for the slums in India. Mahafail, Danny Boyle. But you can be sure, other filmmakers will continue to do so. And sadly, we need to recognize them for their courage. They know the film will probably not make waves or rake in heaps at the box office. And yet, they stand by their films hoping it will make a difference in India and will educate the ignorant, motivate the youth and open eyes of those who choose to wear a blindfold to social issues that are blatantly in front of them.

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