Since sequels are pretty rampant in big, bad B-Wood, here’s Alfred Hirani’s sequel from last week’s article from “The Forgotten Grandmaster” to the Indian Cinema’s Flag-bearing Sons.
Before we get introduced to these two gentlemen, let me tell you a little about why our movies are the way they are. So since cinema was, at first, only a visual medium, it incorporated what it saw in previous forms of entertainment, say, plays. As explained by Shyam Benegal, Indian plays had interludes of songs between them and hence, our cinema evolved into what it became. The melodrama, of course, was in our blood. Films, at first a luxury, then a necessity, became a part of our culture. Everybody wanted to be in it, everyone sang the songs, and everyone was a star in their own minds. And thus, Bollywood came into existence! So where do these sons come in?
Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar, born just a year apart, were the first new-age filmmakers of Bollywood. While the 50s can be considered as the golden age of our cinema, the 60s, 70s and the 80s were more or less the same. The same old melodrama, the same old boy- girl- girl’s daddy stories, a similar kind of music. Not like it fucked with the business, that only grew, but the audience definitely needed something fresher. The 80s thrived on underworld money and the “bad” associated with Bollywood was starting to take shape. And that’s where these sons stepped in. Both of them hailing from prestigious filmmaking backgrounds, Chopra, a tad bit more illustrious, decided to take up the same professions. Both, Yash Chopra and Johar were proud daddies.
And then came the time for their first films. Few know that Chopra’s first written film was actually a Memento-esque thriller which, well, got scrapped. Chopra didn’t really want to be shackled by the bounds of Bollywood, but was smart enough to understand that the audience was too young to take in something Avant-garde. So while a certain Ram Gopal Verma thought otherwise, both Chopra and Johar decided to make a certain kind of films which appealed to the mass youth then, while retaining the age-old Indian norms. Films which were fresh in its look and feel and yet, had something for the “wise” old ladies and men too. And well, the films were made and the rest was history.
The much-loved DDLJ was recently crowned as the longest running film in world cinema and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai won a national award over Satya (remember the RGV-Johar spat?). There is no doubt that these films were flawed, very flawed, but they appealed to the mass then. Big time. And you know what the funny thing is? They still do.
You’ll hear every young actor, actress, director, producer/spotboy talking about how films made by these two have inspired them to come into this field. And well, while they continue making the films that they do, these two filmmakers are slowly, but surely evolving. While foraying into film production, these filmmakers have been producing a barrage of movies, from commercial potboilers to some pretty indie dramas. So while a Dhoom 3 and an Agneepath do well, we also get to see a Lunchbox (co-produced) and a Titli too!
Finally deeming the audience ready for a slightly different kind of cinema, it seems like these filmmakers are making all the right decisions. Well, most of the times. And this is not just limited to their productions. Their upcoming directorial are said to be quite different from the films they’ve made. We can only be hopeful that the products they have in store for us proves yet again, to be a game-changer for an industry which is now on the global map. With the world watching us, the eyes are once again on the flag-bearing sons to take Bollywood forward, inspiring quality filmmakers for the years to come.
In a sense, Bollywood is all about footprints. Every filmmaker, actor has been inspired by the previous generation and hopes to emulate them while bringing in something new. That’s how evolution works in this industry I guess. A footprint left by one filmmaker, would inspire a generation of filmmakers who yet again, would encourage the next batch. There are many who try to be flag-bearers but as Dibakar Banerjee says, there are very few who succeed. And it is upon these individuals to make the products that they do, with utmost care and passion so that the next set of people that come in can confidently be trusted to take the mantle forward. Till then, we can sit back, relax, and watch the masters do what they do best….. Entertain.