But is quality suffering?
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Bollywood over the last decade has made some great strides as far as theme and quality of movies goes. Over the same period we have also seen an avalanche of movies catering to the Non Resident Indian market. With a very large Diaspora of Indians all over the world Bollywood has gained by playing to these audience’s sentiments about their homeland. With mushy patriotic fares which preach about Indian values and culture Bollywood has managed to hit the nail bang on the “heart” as far as the NRIs are concerned. But is it all at the expense of quality?
Bollywood began catering to the NRI market with movies that dealt with large Punjabi weddings. ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (or more popularly called DDLJ) showed the vast possibilities of the NRI market to Bollywood. But the movie that really exploited its true potential was the movie ‘
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But have we really made any inroads globally? Indian cinema still fails to capture the imagination of audiences who are not of Indian origin. It is still looked upon as elaborate song and dance, melodramatic affairs with little meaning or substance. The only mainstream Bollywood movie to make any sort of inroads in the west was ‘Lagaan’. The reason it did was because it had the technical brilliance and the backing of a brilliant screenplay to make it big anywhere in the world.
In the last one year alone we have had movies like ‘Kabhi Alvida Na Kehana’, ‘Namastey London’ and ‘Ta Ra Rum Pum’ based on the lives of NRIs. All these movies have had varying degrees of success. This is all fine. But what Bollywood should realize is that movies make it big not by targeting a particular audience but by telling good stories. Movie makers should be more concerned with telling a good story in as entertaining a way as possible rather than being concerned with what their audiences would and would not like.
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Please do not get us wrong. We are not saying that Bollywood should never make movies about NRIs. What we are saying that they should not be trying to make movies for NRIs alone. By concentrating on a particular market segment alone they are foregoing the opportunity to grow. Such short sighted methods may yield dividends over the short run but it could be harmful in the long run. By concentrating solely on the lives of the affluent classes of the society Bollywood is denying itself the chance to explore the rich and vibrant stories from the other strata of society.
Currently Bollywood is selling itself short by jumping onto one particular bandwagon or the other. They should try to break free of the submissive mindset that has been dogging them and should try to take some calculated risks. For that first of all the industry needs to start dreaming big. Bollywood is just one step away from making it really big internationally. All it needs is just one breakthrough and then the floodgates would open as far as good quality movies go. And they should also learn that the word international does not mean the NRIs alone. We should dream of a day when our movies too are able to break geographical and linguistic boundaries and is watched by everyone and not just NRIs all over the world.